Classic Salad Nicoise

March 30, 2012
The classic salad nicoise is a staple in the south of France, the Provence region.  This is a composed salad made with tuna, baby new potatoes, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, green, beans, and of course nicoise olives.  You can use either canned tuna or slices of seared tuna steaks for this recipe.  If you decide to go with canned, choose a high-quality brand (usually those from Spain are really good).  I prefer tuna packed in olive oil as opposed to water because it is moist and has more flavor.  Nicoise salad is a light and satisfying meal, perfect for any time of the day.
 
 
Ingredients:
 
Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
Salad:
2 ounces grilled or otherwise cooked tuna steaks* (8 each) or 2-3 cans of tuna
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and either halved or quartered
10 inches small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches diameter, about 1 ¼ pounds total), each
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 mediums heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite
3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
1/4 cup niçoise olives
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and/or several anchovies (optional)
 
Directions:
 
Marinate tuna steaks in a little olive oil for an hour. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat, or place on a hot grill. Cook the steaks 2 to 3 minutes on each side until cooked through.
 
Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
 
Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon (do not discard boiling water). Toss warm potatoes with 1/4 cup vinaigrette; set aside.
 
While potatoes are cooking, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter. Cut tuna into 1/2-inch thick slices, coat with vinaigrette. Mound tuna in center of lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture on the lettuce bed. Arrange reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.
 
Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans, transfer to reserved ice water, and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry beans well. Toss beans, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.
 
Arrange hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies (if using) in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers (if using), and serve immediately.

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