Salade Niçoise was our summer staple growing up in Provence. We picked fresh tomatoes and green beans from the garden every day, seasoned them with a garlic vinaigrette, and added the niçoise olives, tuna, anchovies and other classic ingredients to complete our lunch.
Personally I like to sear fresh tuna steaks as much as possible, although a good quality canned tuna in olive oil makes a great alternative. Traditionally, we included hard boiled eggs for convenience of preparation ahead and have them on hand any time. If you have the luxury of cooking soft boiled eggs at the last minute, they add a delightful note of strong color, fine texture and delicate taste.
1 1/4 lb fresh tuna steak
3/4 lb French green beans
4 fresh farm eggs at room temperature
4 medium size red potatoes
4 vine ripe tomatoes
2 oz flat filets of anchovies
A bunch of fresh flat parsley
2 cloves garlic (or one large one)
2 dozen oil and herb cured black olives or niçoise olives
6 tsp Dijon mustard
6 tsp Balsamic vinegar
10-12 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tbsp Grape seed oil
Freshly ground sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Snap the ends of the green beans to pull the threads out if any.
Plunge them in salted boiling water.
Boil them till firm tender.
Drain them in a colander.
Immediately cool them in a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve their bright green color.
Wash the potatoes. Cut in half and in thick slices.
Then, cube all the potatoes.
Boil the cubed potatoes in lightly salted water till firm tender, and leave in water off the stove to keep them warm.
Chop the parsley, garlic and cut the anchovy fillets into small pieces.
Separately, cook the eggs the same way as for the Asparagus with Salmon Caviar and Black Olive Vinaigrette (see recipe for photos), by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil, adding the eggs, bringing back to a boil and cooking for 3 minutes on timer. Drain hot water from pot and rinse the eggs under cold running water till cool. Set aside.
Prepare garlic vinaigrette into three separate bowls. Place 2 tsp of Dijon mustard in each, add 1/3 of the chopped garlic in each, a little salt and pepper, 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar, mix well. Add 3-4 Tbsp of olive oil and whisk.
Wash and quarter the tomatoes. Remove the hard core. Slice thinly and place in one of the bowls with the garlic vinaigrette. Toss, add parsley and set aside.
Place the green beans in another bowl containing garlic vinaigrette, add chopped parsley, toss and set aside.
For the third salad bowl, drain the potatoes and place them in the last bowl, add anchovy pieces, chopped parsley, toss and set aside.
While I was finishing preparing the salads, my boyfriend offered timely collaboration to sear the tuna. He oiled the fresh tuna steak with grape seed oil and cracked some black pepper. The grape seed oil has a higher smoke point and is well suited for high temperature cooking and can be safely used for searing.
Place a tablespoon of grape seed oil in a cast iron pan on high heat to get the pan very hot.
Once the pan is hot, place the tuna steak on the bottom and do not move it.
Cover with a splatter guard to prevent the oil from spreading around the cooking surface.
Once the bottom of the tuna steak is brown, turn it over with a metal spatula.
Continue cooking the other side, without moving it, until it browns the same way. Again, cover with the splatter guard.
When both sides are seared, place on a cutting board and slice the tuna thinly.
Start to plate the salads, peel the soft boiled egg.
Add a few slices of seared tuna, some olives, cut the egg in half… Enjoy!