Healthy Asian Flair Dinner, Plus Leftovers


On a recent foray to the fishmonger, some ahi tuna called my name. The bright red steaks were screaming with freshness, and I simply had to have them for dinner.

I envisioned it soy-glazed, rare-seared, sliced and served alongside a couple of interesting sides. But I had a busy day riddled with deadlines, errands, appointments, conference calls, family responsibilities and meetings, so I did not have a lot of time or inclination to provision for and craft intricate accompaniments.

Upon arriving home with my prized tuna, I encountered some bad news, namely that the cupboard was rather bare, save for a spaghetti squash bought at the farmers market last week, and a half-container of snow peas left over from a previous dinner.

The good news is I came up with a “necessity is the mother of invention” dish. The two vegetables came together nicely, providing a unique blend of textures and flavors, and the color combo was beautiful.

The dish was simple to prepare and performed double duty — it essentially functioned as both a starch and a vegetable. OK, so spaghetti squash isn’t exactly noodles, rice or mashed potatoes, but it is a healthier complex carb that delivers enough heft to sort of trick the palate.

Best of all, the leftovers provided a healthy and delicious salad for my lunch the following day.

As far as dessert goes, it seems most people are skipping it these days. But if you want a final course — to complete the meal, as my dear, departed notoriously sweet tooth- afflicted grandma used to say — I’d keep it in the Asian flavor profile.

Buy some candied ginger, chop it up and sprinkle it on vanilla ice cream or mango sorbet. Or serve small cups of rich hot chocolate sprinkled with Chinese five spice powder.

Soy-Seared Tuna

Serves 2 generously

  • 2 tuna steaks, about ½-pound each, about ¾-inch thick
  • Juice of ½-lemon
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Lots of fresh cracked pepper (it should generally coat the fish)
  • Canola or vegetable oil for cooking

In a shallow dish, mix the lemon juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey. Place the fish in the dish, turn it to coat and allow it to marinate for 30 to 60 minutes.

Remove the fish from the marinade (reserve the marinade for later use) and sprinkle the fish generously with coarse, fresh-cracked pepper. Press the pepper into the fish.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the fish. Cook about 2 minutes per side for rare. Remove the fish from the heat and allow it to rest for about 2 minutes.

While the fish rests, pour the reserved marinade into a skillet and bring it to a boil. Pour the hot marinade over the cooked fish. Slice the fish on the diagonal and serve immediately.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Snow Peas

Serves 4 generously

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup snow peas, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds.

Place the squash halves face down on a parchment-lined, rimmed cookie sheet.

Bake the squash at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes until completely soft inside.

Remove the squash from the oven and, when cool, scrape the inside of the squash out with a fork, forming spaghetti-like strands. Place the spaghetti squash back on the parchment and spread it into an even layer on the baking sheet.

Sprinkle the ginger over the spaghetti squash, and add the cut snow peas.

Toss well, sprinkle salt onto the mixture and return it to the oven for another 20 minutes until the snow peas are cooked.

Leftovers Lunch Salad

Serves 1

This healthy lunch repurposes the dishes above into a healthy, delicious salad.

  • 2-3 cups torn lettuce or baby greens
  • ½ cup squash snow pea mixture
  • 4 slices seared tuna
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • Fresh cracked pepper

Place the lettuce into a shallow dish. Place the squash/snow pea mixture on top of the lettuce, spreading it out to distribute it evenly.

Mix the oils, vinegar and soy sauce in small cup with a fork and drizzle it over the salad. Toss well.

Place the sliced tuna on top of the salad and serve immediately.


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