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In the Kitchen with Vital Choice

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Grilled Albacore with Quinoa Salad

Grilled Albacore with Quinoa SaladWelcome to Vital Choice at Home!

This series features me, Michelle — a writer and soccer mom from the Rocky Mountains — my husband and two kids, some beautiful Vital Choice seafood and lots of regular home cooking.
(Click here to learn more about me, below.)
I want to feature the products and preparations you're curious about.
Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?
Email me and help to shape this series.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
That was definitely my experience this first time grilling Vital Choice Tuna Loin Medallions.
However, I'll tell you, my practice was a delicious and worthwhile experience!
I've been waiting for a warm summer day to first prepare these beautiful little Albacore Tuna Medallions.
After searching around, I found a perfect marinade recipe on the Vital Choice website, and opted to pair the tuna with a light, veggie-filled quinoa salad (more on the salad later).
This tuna deserves kinder, gentler grilling
You know a marinade is excellent if it helps to compensate for your inexperience at the grill.
This easy marinade, which is simply Dijon mustard, olive oil, tamari soy sauce and rice wine vinegar (or similar), couldn't be easier.
I took the tuna out of the freezer about 18 hours before I was going to prepare it rather than flash thaw it, and it thawed relatively quickly in the fridge (I believe because the pieces are a nice, small size).
Once the albacore was thawed, I placed it in the marinade for about 90 minutes before grilling.
Now, to my grilling (mis)adventures.
Grilled Albacore Tuna with Quinoa Salad
Let me say, these medallions are beautiful, tender things. They are so excellent, they deserve a light touch.
My first attempt at following the recipe was less-than-perfect. The recipe calls for grilling 6 minutes total, 3 minutes on each side, after oiling your grill grate.
Please don't skip the grate-oiling step. Even with the marinade, my fish stuck the tiniest bit ... oiling the grate is essential.
Unfortunately, my grill was still on medium-high, and after six minutes the texture was tough. This was absolutely a rookie grilling mistake. 
However, I will say that it was still delicious — this marinade is just delightful, and would be great with a number of side dish pairings. There's a wonderful tang from the mustard that pairs perfectly with a bit of sweetness from the tamari and rice vinegar.
I did feel like I needed to get the tuna right at least once, so I knew how good it could really be.
On my second attempt, I marinated four medallions as before, then cooked another four un-marinated. If you've not grilled albacore medallions before, this is a great learning experience.
What I realized is that it's difficult to watch the center of the tuna once it's coated in marinade.
Using a few plain medallions was a great chance to watch how the tuna cooks – I could see it whiten slightly on each side after 2-3 minutes, but the center section was still a beautiful pink.
Once we cut into our second batch, the results were magnificent. Cooked correctly, the medallions maintained their silkiness and light, pure texture.
If you try this recipe, and I hope you do, I would try 2½ minutes a side or so on a medium grill (about 350º).
One additional recommendation — try to cook them in batches. Because they're delicate, you need to get the tuna medallions off the heat quickly, and that's hard to do if you have too many grilling at a time.
We had a much easier time of it grilling them one 6 oz. packet at a time (rather than all at once). Small batches went a long way toward avoiding overcooking.
Sushi grade and dolphin-safe
One additional note about the Vital Choice Albacore Medallions.
These really are the finest quality you can find, and it shows in the final flavor and texture. 
The medallions are skinless, boneless and sushi-grade, which means you can lightly sear them or even enjoy them raw.
All Vital Choice albacore comes from a North Pacific fishery where smaller boats line-catch individual tuna using the sustainable troll method, which ensures careful handling of each fish and safety for dolphins.
In fact, thanks to its sustainable harvest and lower mercury content, albacore from this fishery is categorized as a "Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Quinoa salad with radishes and rainbow chard
This week I had two must-use items in my fridge from our weekly organic farm share: a large bunch of rainbow chard and radishes.
Using a recipe inspired by the Green Lite Bites website, I put together a simple quinoa side dish using these two veggies as my starting point.
It's been hot here, so I actually made the quinoa salad in the morning, then stuck it in the fridge to serve later in the day with the grilled albacore, and it was excellent cold.
Here's the basic recipe.
Prepare quinoa according to package: about 2 parts water to one part rinsed quinoa.
You may notice in my photos that the quinoa is multicolored. Honestly, it's just because I had a partial bag of regular quinoa and a partial bag of red. It would be good with either.
As the quinoa simmers, rough chop your greens — I used chard, but kale or spinach would also be delicious.
I also chopped up a bit of fresh Italian parsley and sliced 5-6 radishes, plus juiced a large lemon.
As soon as the quinoa was done, I stirred in the rainbow chard. The heat of the quinoa effectively wilted the greens to the perfect doneness.
I then stirred in the lemon juice, radishes, and parsley, and about a tablespoon of olive oil, then seasoned it all with salt and pepper.
Taste for seasoning and enjoy warm or place in the fridge to enjoy cold later.
I will say, this salad didn't keep well after about a day – the greens browned very quickly, so enjoy it please the day that you make it or the next.
The finished salad was very light and a great use of extra greens and radishes, of which we have a lot in the spring.
Mix up this recipe with whatever you have on hand — it's a nice, simple idea for any number of spring or summer vegetables.
What else have you done with your Albacore Medallions?
I have a few more servings in the freezer and am looking for inspiration!
Please send me a note and let me know what has worked well and I'll give it a try!
Tuna rating: 4 out of 4 stars
Quinoa rating: 2½ out of 4 stars

A Note from Michelle
Like you, I have a passion for beautiful-yet-healthy food that's easy to prepare.
While I do love making the occasional "fancy” dinner, most of the time I'm short on time and have a house full of hungry people who want to eat NOW.
I'm not a professional chef – I'm just a busy mom who loves to cook and who's focused on that intersection of healthy and delicious.
I want this series to feature the products and preparations you're curious about.
Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?
Email me and help to shape this series.
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