Cookbook author Cassy Joy Garcia thinks she has figured out why we find it hard to get dinner on the table each evening: “We’re overcomplicating and overcommitting.”

In her latest cookbook, “Cook Once Dinner Fix” (Simon and Schuster, 2021), continues on a path she began when she started her website,, in 2011. Her goal: “Get a healthy, delicious dinner on the table as painlessly as possible.”

Garcia says she wants to spend just enough time in the kitchen to “enjoy the cooking process” and create a meal that everyone digs into with relish.

In this book, each of the 120 recipe includes one or more cooked ingredient that is then used in a subsequent meal. So, instead of leftovers of that certain dish, you’re making something new with less effort. It’s intentional and thoughtful and, after you read through a few recipes in the cookbook, you start thinking about your favorite recipes and how many contain the same proteins or vegetables. One example: If Meal 1 is a pot roast, then Meal 2 might be tacos.

For this dish, Chile-Lime Tuna Steak With Quinoa, she recommends marinating and cooking 3 pounds of fish, then using half in this dish and the other half in a tuna casserole the next night. We opted instead to flake the fish atop a vegetable-laden salad.

Along with recipes for poultry, beef, pork, seafood and vegetable mains, the cookbook will stay on my shelf — a fairly rare distinction considering how crowded my shelves are — because she offers lots of strategies for what needs to be made fresh and what can be made ahead, for freezing and reheating. She also offers a substitutions guide and tips for organizing and cleaning. If you want a sample of Garcia’s recipes, visit the website.

We made a few adjustments to the original recipe, including one that she might not wholeheartedly support because she prides herself on creating nutritious dishes: We doubled-up on the marinade she recommended. So, we marinated the tuna in half of the mixture and then used the other half as a dressing for the plated tuna and quinoa. That ups the sodium a bit, so if that’s a concern, serve it as she intended. This dish would be great with a little toasted couscous or rice, as well.

And here the recipe calls for enough tuna for just four servings of this dish, but you can double-up on the tuna if you want to make this Meal 1 and come up with your own ideas for another. Consider a variation on this Mediterranean Chopped Salad Bowl With Tuna.

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Make Ahead: The quinoa can be made up to 1 day in advance. The tuna should be marinated for at least 10 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Storage Notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

NOTE: Most quinoa in the United States comes pre-rinsed. If not, rinsing the quinoa removes any bitterness. If you are rinsing it, you will need a fine strainer or sieve.


  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, divided
  • 1 cup (6 1/2 ounces) uncooked tricolor quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Thai chile sauce, or your favorite chile sauce
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 lime, finely zested and cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 4 limes)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) 1-inch thick tuna steaks
  • 3 tablespoons lightly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for serving

Step 1

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1 1/2 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 17 minutes. (If the quinoa is still wet, uncover, increase the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute.) Remove from the heat and keep covered.

Step 2

While the quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the chile sauce, soy sauce, lime zest and juice, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and the remaining salt. Put the tuna steaks in a large, sealable container, pour in half of the chile sauce mixture and marinate for at least 10 minutes and up to 2 hours in the refrigerator. Reserve the remaining marinade for serving.

Step 3

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining olive oil until shimmering. Transfer the tuna to the hot skillet, using caution because it may splatter a bit at first (discard the used marinade). Cook the tuna until a slight crust forms on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the tuna reaches the desired doneness, about 1 more minute for medium.

Step 4

Divide the tuna among four plates. Mound the quinoa alongside the tuna, and spoon the reserved marinade over the quinoa and tuna on each plate. Sprinkle cilantro leaves and sesame seeds over everything, and serve with the lime wedges.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (1 tuna steak and 3/4 cup quinoa with 2 tablespoons sauce)

Calories: 452; Total Fat: 18 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 44 mg; Sodium: 1036 mg; Carbohydrates: 35 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 36 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Cook Once Dinner Fix” by Cassy Joy Garcia (Simon and Schuster, 2021).

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to

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