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A.V. Club Live

Learn to make next-level tuna spread from New York Times food writer Melissa Clark
About This Episode

This recipe comes courtesy of Melissa Clark’s new cookbook, Dinner: Changing The Game. A.V. Club staffer Laura Adamczyk, in reviewing the book, wrote:

As in many of her recipes for the New York Times, these are simple meals meant for everyday cooking, which she heightens through small but significant creative adjustments, jazzing things up with perhaps a few extra or unexpected spices or a small, additional step like caramelizing or crisping aromatics to serve as garnishes for soups, stews, and dals.

Here’s Clark’s recipe for Mediterranean tuna and olive spread, which she prepares in the video above.

Mediterranean tuna and olive spread

Total time: 15 minutes
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups

Like the silkiest and most full-flavored tuna mousse imaginable, this dip has a deep savory, briny note from the anchovies and capers. When I first started making it, the idea was to serve it with thinly sliced poached veal breast à la vitello tonnato. And it was terrific. But the veal was kind of a pain to make, and really, the best thing about the dish was the complex, fishy, umami sauce. So now I make the sauce all by itself, and serve it as a dip or spread, or drizzled over more simply cooked proteins. Try it dolloped on potato chips, thickly sliced tomatoes, halved boiled potatoes, or soft-cooked eggs—or with your favorite cut-up veggies for dipping.

And do splurge on the best-quality tuna you can get. I really like the kind imported from Spain or Italy that’s packed in really good olive oil. If you can’t get it and are using regular supermarket tuna, make sure to add the anchovies and even throw in a few extra; the added brininess they contribute will help make up for the less flavorful tuna.

5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 3 oz. can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. tightly packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tsp. drained capers
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving
2 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional but excellent)
1 fat garlic clove, smashed
1 Tbsp. chopped black olives such as Kalamata
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. In a blender, combine the olive oil, tuna, mayonnaise, basil, capers, lemon juice, anchovies, and garlic, and puree until creamy. Use a spatula to stir in the olives. Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed, but it probably won’t need it.

2. Serve the spread in a shallow bowl, garnished with black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a scattering of basil leaves.