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Tuna, avocado and chickpeas?

At first glance it’s just not something you would think might go together, but I saw it in a buffet line and had to try it. Immediately, I fell in love! This is a feast of protein; and yes, avocados do grow in Southeast Asia.

With a local white wine from the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, an often-overlooked production area in Santa Barbara County, this pairing should lift off like a SpaceX Falcon Heavy, soaring above all expectations and sending you around the world with exotic cuisine.

Ahi Tuna Avocado and Chickpea Salad

1 lb. sushi-grade 1-inch-thick ahi tuna steaks

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. peanut oil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. mustard

15-oz. can chickpeas, drained

1 avocado, cut into ½-inch cubes

½ red onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. capers


Zest from 1 lime

Juice from 1 lime

2 Tbsp. peanut oil

1 Tbsp. sugar

½ tsp. salt

Salt and pepper

⅓ c. fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Meanwhile, combine sesame and peanut oil in a medium mixing bowl and the 5 spices in a small cup. Coat tuna steaks with the oil, and then rub in combined spices. Wipe cast iron skillet with a thin layer of the remaining oil. Add tuna steaks to the hot cooking surface and sear for 1 minute on each side. Remove tuna from heat.

Meanwhile, slice avocado in half carefully scooping out the inside and dice the avocado into ½-inch cubes. Combine in a large bowl with chickpeas, onion, garlic and capers.

In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salad dressing and whisk until well combined.

Slice tuna into 1-by-¼-inch-thick strips and then add to the large bowl and toss gently with salad dressing. If needed, season with salt and pepper to taste, and then garnish with chopped cilantro. Chill until ready to serve.

Pair this dish with winemaker Kathy Joseph’s Fiddlehead 2013 Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc, their signature, Loire-styled sauvignon blanc.

This silky textured wine illustrates the beauty of the blend and tames this varietal into amazing elegance: one-third fermented in stainless steel for bright aromatics and zinginess, one-third fermented in new French oak barrels for layered textures and persistent flavors and the final third fermented in neutral French oak barrels to achieve marriage and grace.

A chic, less herbal style with little hints of cloves, this wine is intentionally given a few years of bottle age prior to release to assure a seamless entrance onto your palate.

Named for both its style and its AVA source, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, I hope you enjoy this very versatile crowd pleaser.

John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at


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