Pasta Salad with Tuna, Red Onions, and Frisee

Serves 6
This main dish is perfect for warm evenings -- the quickly-seared tuna adds enough substance to make this a satisfying meal.


  • 1 tuna steak (about 10 ounces)
  • Coarse salt
  • 8 ounces chiocciole (or medium shells)
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 small red onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed
  • 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 head frisee, green parts only


  1. Bring tuna to room temperature. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup water. Drizzle with just enough oil to coat. Spread on a baking sheet, and refrigerate 10 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle tuna with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add tuna, and reduce heat to medium. Cook until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl, and flake with a fork. Toss with 2 tablespoons oil and remaining lemon juice.
  3. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until soft, about 12 minutes, adding reserved pasta water a tablespoon at a time if onions dry out. Add garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Add vinegar, capers, and red-pepper flakes, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add to tuna, and let cool.
  4. Toss together pasta, tuna-onion mixture, frisee, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with oil. Serve at room temperature.
cook's note
Resist the urge to rinse cooked pasta with cold water to bring it to room temperature; this washes away most of its starch, which helps the sauce and other ingredients adhere. Instead, drain pasta, drizzle with olive oil, spread on a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate for about 10 minutes.
Need help with the ingredients? Check our pantry list:
Photo by Johansen Krause