Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Salad Nicoise with Grilled Tuna and French Potato Salad

I love Salad Nicoise and have made it a number of different ways. One tip, I think from Julia Child, is that the components should be tossed separately, not necessarily in exactly the same dressing. My current variation uses spring mix, fresh grilled tuna, blanched haricot vert or asparagus depending on which looks fresher, steamed or roasted new potates, pitted Nicoise olives, whatever tomatoes look best, and hard-cooked eggs. "My Favorite Vinaigrette" from The New Basics is typically what I use for the salad. Yesterday, while looking for something interesting to do with tuna for lunch I came across an Ina Gartner recipe for the salad that included French potato salad. Yum! Looking back at Julia’s recipe, I found that she did this as well. Here is my variation of Ina’s:

Salad Nicoise with Grilled Tuna and French Potato Salad


For the Potato Salad:
  • 1 pound small red boiling potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
For the Vinaigrette:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 5 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
For the Salad:
  • 2 (1-inch-thick) fresh tuna steaks (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound haricots verts, blanched
  • 1 recipe French Potato Salad
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, cut in half and sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound good Nicoise olives, pitted
  • 1 bag spring mix
  1. Drop the potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes.
  2. While the potatoes cook, make the salad dressing.Combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion.
  3. As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each in half (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the white wine vinegar and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
  4. Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Gently toss the potatoes with the vinaigrette.
  5. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper to the potatoes and stir gently to combine.
  6. Preheat a grill until very hot. Clean the grate thoroughly and spray it with grill spray.
  7. Brush the fish with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill each side for only 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. The center should be raw, like sushi, or the tuna will be tough and dry.
  8. Let the tuna sit for a few minutes before slicing into 1/2 inch slices.
  9. Toss the green beans with a tablespoon of the vinaigrette.
  10. Toss the salad greens in the remaining vinaigrette.
  11. Arrange each plate using the salad greens as a base, topping it with the sliced tuna, haricots verts, potato salad, tomatoes, eggs, and olives.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 1 hour

Tonight, I only had a few, slightly old and shriveled cherry tomatoes so we sautéed them in a hot skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

In a week in which I feel like we haven’t eaten quite as many fruits and vegetables as we should have, this was a great meal. Pickier diner B ate no tomatoes and not much potato salad, but all of his greens and beans. W liked the potato salad, but not the tomatoes, and ate all his greens and beans as well. I loved the French potato salad and plan on making it regularly this spring and summer. A perfect Spring meal!