Tuna Confit with Tomato Salad

This isn't the tuna salad you're used to
33 Ratings
100% would make again
Photo: Barcelona Wine Bar

Most of us know canned tuna as the watery staple of lunchtime salads, but pop open a golden, oil-soaked tin of tuna from Spain and it will seem almost like a luxury item in comparison. If you can't track down this prized pantry item, Dylan Hansen of Barcelona Wine Bar in New Haven is here to show you how to make your own to then flake over a juicy summer tomato salad.

Make this alongside calamari cooked in squid ink for a Basque-inspired feast.

Confit Tuna with Tomato Salad

Recipe adapted from Dylan Hansen, Barcelona Wine Bar, New Haven, CT

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus 2 hours curing time

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes, plus 2 hours curing time


For the Tuna Confit:

1 pound tuna belly, or toro

1 cup kosher salt

1 ⅓ cups extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed

Zest of half a lemon

Zest of half an orange

1 bay leaf

1 rosemary sprig

2 thyme sprigs

For the Salad:

½ small Spanish onion, thinly sliced

10 green olives (preferably marinated)

2 Brunetta or Kumato tomatoes, wedged

Sherry vinegar

Reserved olive oil from the tuna

Flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


1. Make the tuna confit: Dice the belly into large, similarly-sized chunks and cover in the kosher salt for 2 hours. This process cures the tuna, pulling out the moisture and seasoning it. Afterwards, rinse the tuna.

2. Warm the olive oil in a medium sauté pan or saucepan (whatever will hold and submerge the tuna) on low heat. Add crushed garlic, lemon zest, orange zest, and the herbs. Heat slowly until the garlic has cooked through and is slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes

3. Add the rinsed tuna to the olive oil and cook on low heat until tender. The cooking time will depend on the size of your pieces and can take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes, but allow the tuna to cook low and slow so it can absorb the olive oil.

4. Let the tuna cool to room temperature while fully submerged in the olive oil before serving. The longer it sits, the more flavorful it will be. 

5. Assemble the salad: Arrange the onions, olives and tomatoes on a plate. Flake the tuna over the salad, dress with sherry vinegar, the oil from the tuna, flaky salt and pepper and serve.

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