WRITTEN ON May 29th, 2009 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Dinner, Fish and Shellfish, Fruit

This week I geeked out and went running with a backpack. I was going to the Greenmarkets, which are exactly three miles from my apartment, so I figured why not kill two birds with one stone. I needed the backpack because I was toting along my camera, plus my shopping bags for whatever I purchased. I learned two things from this experience. 1) If you are even remotely uncoordinated, leave the pack at home. 2) Construction workers, inexplicably, love a girl with a backpack. All the humiliation was worth it though, because when I finally made it to Union Square (I’m a slow runner), I was greeted by the gloriously cheerful, bright red first picking of this season’s strawberries. Now I was not only a goober with a backpack, but I was walking around with this idiotic grin on my face, drooling like a Labrador Retriever who finally found someone to throw her a ball. I bought one large box of them (at 7 bucks a pop I figured I’d start slow) and ate half, leafy green tops included, on the way home, while coming up with this recipe in my head. The strawberries in the salsa are slightly acidic and the Meyer lemon is a bit of a surprise. It has a much softer flavor than a regular lemon (though if that’s all you have, go ahead and use it), with a touch of orange. It perfectly balances the peppery crust of the tuna. Expect a lot of strawberry love from me in the next couple weeks. For now, dip your feet in the pool with this one. I’m heading back to the markets on Monday…only this time, I think I’ll take the subway.

I heart strawberries

I heart strawberries

Pepper Tuna with Strawberry Salsa (serves 2)
¾ lb fresh tuna steak, skin removed
Mixed whole peppercorns (you can find peppercorn varieties in the spice section)
1 tbsp olive oil
Pat tuna steak dry with paper towels. Season with salt and then coat liberally with fresh cracked peppercorns (you can either crush them in a spice grinder, put them in a pepper mill, or use the back of a heavy sauté pan to crush them). Heat oil in a medium sized sauté pan until very hot but not smoking. Sear tuna about 2 minutes on the first side and 1 minute on the second side (if you like it less rare in the middle, leave it on longer). Remove to a cutting board, let it rest while making salsa.

Strawberry Salsa (don’t make too far in advance because the strawberries will bleed)
10 fresh strawberries, preferably local
1 tbsp chopped red onion
1 small handful cilantro, chopped fine
5 mint leaves, chopped fine
¼ fresh jalapeno, small dice
½ Meyer lemon, juiced (if you can’t find Meyer lemon, try a mix of ¾ lemon and ¼ orange juice, freshly squeezed)
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients. Slice tuna thinly against the grain, fan out on a plate. Top with salsa, serve immediately.

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