IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Seared Tuna and Watermelon with Pesto Couscous

Courtesy Meg Bickford
Cook Time:
40 mins
Prep Time:
30 mins

Chef notes

There are many complex nuances and flavors to this seemingly simple dish. The sweetness of the watermelon, rich briny salt from the feta, herbaceous and vegetal flavor from the pesto, sweet, sour and umami from the red onions — the textures and flavors all go so well together. This tuna and watermelon combination is the perfect springtime dish.

Technique Tip: Pre-heat your pan on the stove before searing your tuna and don't walk away from it. A quick sear on each side is all you need.

Swap Option: Swap tuna for shrimp. Swap couscous for orzo pasta.



  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 medium red onion, skin-on, cut in half
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup ponzu sauce
  • 1 small watermelon
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous, dry
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 4 (4-ounce) portions tuna loin, blue fin or yellowtail
  • 1-2 ounces feta cheese



Preheat oven to 375 F.


Lightly oil the red onion and season with salt and pepper. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Sear the cut sides of the onion until they are black. Place pan from stove into the oven and roast the onion for about 30 minutes, or until the onion is very tender and heavily charred. Remove the skin from the onion and discard. Wipe out pan.


Purée the onion and ponzu in the blender until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside.


Trim the rind and any white pith from the watermelon. Cut the flesh to make pieces that are similar size to the tuna loin. Set aside.


Bring 1 quart of salted water to a simmer in a pot. Add couscous and stir, cooking for 7 minutes until al dente and then strain. Drizzle cooked couscous with a tablespoon of vegetable oil to stop it from sticking. Spoon the pesto on to couscous and stir until the pesto is well incorporated and couscous is fully coated.


Season tuna generously with salt, pepper and a neutral cooking oil. Sear tuna in a pre-heated cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, rotating to get an even sear on all sides.


Slice the watermelon and tuna to a similar thickness, cutting the tuna against the grain. On four dinner plates, place a generous spoonful of pesto couscous along the center of the plate in a line. Place the tuna and watermelon on top of the couscous in an alternating shingle pattern. Spoon onion-ponzu sauce in a circular motion around the perimeter of the plate. Crumble feta cheese over the tuna and watermelon.