A long time ago, before kids, my lovely Aunt Dorothy took me to Europe. I always assumed I’d be back with Gord but we got busy with life, and so far not yet. One of the things I loved in France was Salade Niçoise. There were versions everywhere we went, fresh and delicious, even in the most humble cafeterias. It delighted me when we went out to eat and I spotted this tasty salad. Maybe it became a touchstone in a foreign land. I still remember finding Salade Niçoise at a café when we were leaving France, and how good it tasted. Such a basic salad and not uncommon here in Canada, yet I’ve never found a good one again – until now. Da Dah!
Aileen put together a big platter of Tuna salad Niçoise and invited her grandparents for lunch. The weather was still a little cold that day. We talked and ate. There’s something about fresh and homemade that makes you feel loved and taken care of. Tuna salad Niçoise is delicious and hearty but at the same time you feel light after you’ve eaten. There was enough to put a tasty snack into the fridge and also send Grandma and Grandpa home with lunch for tomorrow. With tender crisp green beans, sweet grape tomatoes, and butter lettuce you can’t help but feel healthy when you walk away from the table. Aileen cooked the eggs and tuna just so – cooked through but still tender. (She says that next time she will buy sushi-grade Ahi tuna and just sear the outside.) Aileen found fingerling potatoes in three colours – purple, yellow and white – and each had their own character. Try experimenting with the potatoes in your neigbourhood. Soon the farmers’ markets will be opening up again. The farmers will bring in veggies we don’t see in the regular stores. I’m going to spend an easy Saturday morning shopping for their fresh picks and invite Grandma and Grandpa back!
Adapted from Epicurious (well written)
- ¼ c Red Wine Vinegar
- 2½ tbsp Shallot, minced
- 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 large Garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ rounded tsp Anchovy paste
- 1 c Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 1½ tsp fresh Thyme, minced
- 1½ tbsp fresh Basil, finely chopped
- ¾ lb Green Beans (preferably slim French haricots verts), trimmed
- 1½ lb Fingerling Potatoes (or other small, non-floury potatoes)
- 1½ lb (1-inch-thick) Tuna steaks
- Olive Oil for brushing
- ¼ c drained bottled Capers (1½ oz)
- ¾ lb Butter Lettuce (2 heads), leaves separated and large ones torn into pieces
- 2 c Grape Tomatoes
- ⅔ c Niçoise or other small brine-cured Black Olives, chopped
- 4 large Eggs, hard-boiled with yolks still soft. Quartered
- 3 tbsp fresh Basil, finely chopped
- Whisk together vinegar, shallot, mustard, garlic paste, and anchovy paste in a small bowl until combined well, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Whisk in thyme, basil, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook beans in a 4- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water , uncovered, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then immediately plunge the beans into ice water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
- Add potatoes to the boiling water and simmer, uncovered, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. Halve the potatoes while still warm and toss with 2 tablespoons dressing in a bowl. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Brush tuna with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on lightly oiled pan and slide into the hot oven. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven and turn over. Return to oven for an additional 3-4 minutes. Tuna should be browned on the outside and still pink in the center. Place tuna on a plate to cool for 3 minutes. Break into fork-sized chunks. Transfer tuna to a large platter and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of dressing. Top with capers and set aside.
- Transfer potatoes to a large serving platter, reserving the bowl. Place tuna onto the serving platter. Drain beans and pat dry. Toss beans in the potato bowl with 1 tbsp dressing and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to platter. Toss lettuce in the bowl with 2 tbsp dressing and salt and pepper to taste, then transfer to platter. Toss tomatoes in bowl with 1 tbsp dressing and salt and pepper to taste, then transfer to platter.
- Arrange olives and eggs on the platter. Aprinkle salad with basil. Serve salad with remaining dressing on the side.
- Beans and potatoes can be cooked 1 hour ahead and kept at room temperature. Toss potatoes with dressing while warm. Store in fridge. Do not dress beans until just before serving.
YOU Next Year Principle
Cook and share with people you love.
The embarrassing thing is that the salad dressing is outgrossing my films.
Paul Newman, Movie Star and founder Newman’s Own salad dressing. All profits are given to charity world wide, $400 million so far. Homemade tastes better, but Newman’s Own is a good second.