We all know what Nicoise Salad is, and the reality is, you only need to look at the photo to figure out what the basic components are — tuna, tiny Nicoise olives and haricot verts seem to be important. From there, you personalize (unless you are given to hardcore classicism, in which case, it probably hurts you enough to just see seared tuna on my version).
And that is what I did. I seared tuna, which seems to be what so many people are doing these days to substitute for canned tuna. I also added spicy radishes, which I only did because a Nicoise-esque dish at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon was so perfect with the chromatic balance to the tomatoes (which I can’t eat anyway).
I have read that boiled potatoes are actually not part of the original original version of this salad, but Cobb Salads were not originally originally wrapped up in rice paper to make summer rolls either so — remember which blog this is.
The tuna was a review sample from Anderson Seafoods. They overnight shipped fresh tuna, along with a few other fish, to us in cold packs. You will hear more about Anderson Seafoods in a future post.
For now, we’re all about seared tuna on a Nicoise salad, and how perfect it is on a summer evening with a bottle of Rosé.
Rosé is the perfect wine for this salad. Though it’s not what is in this particular photo, we chose one from Bandol (in Provence).
Nicoise Salad with Seared Tuna
I’ve actually made this salad more times than should be allowed in a week. We tried a luscious canned tuna packed in olive oil on the salad, and strangely, it suited the salad when we were eating it for lunch. There must be something about “canned” tuna that just makes me think of lunch.
But when the salad turns into dinner, the seared tuna really made it something special. Toasted baguette is a great accompaniment and of course, a bottle of Rosé rounds out the meal.
serves 2-4, depending on whether it’s a starter or a main dish
For the Seared Tuna
2 6-ounce tuna steaks, room temperature (doesn’t have to be exactly two pieces, doesn’t have to be exactly 6 ounces, just enough to be about 3 to 4 ounces per serving)
salt + pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
small head of butter lettuce, washed, super dried, and coarsely chopped
handful parsley leaves
Anchovy Herb Vinaigrette
handful of small radishes, scrubbed, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
about 1 pound tiny yellow potatoes, scrubbed, boiled in salted water for about 15 minutes until tender, and drained
handful of capers (I found huge caperberries, but small green capers are fine)
handful of Nicoise olives
4 hard boiled eggs quartered lengthwise
about 1 pound haricot vert (or thin green beans), trimmed and cooked in salted boiling water for about 3 minutes)
handful cherry tomatoes, larger ones halved
chives, for garnish
For the Seared Tuna
Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in large pan over medium-high heat.
Lightly season tuna on both sides with salt and peppers. Place 1 tuna steak in oil in pan. Allow to “sear” for about 1 minute, or until it is cooked through about ¼-inch. Flip the steak over and sear the other side for 1 minute. Using flat tongs, hold the tuna upright to sear the sides for about 1 minute on each surface.
Set seared tuna aside on plate to cool. Cook the other steak(s) the same way. When the steaks are cool enough to handle, slice.
To Assemble the Salad
In a large bowl, toss the chopped lettuce and parsley together with about ½ cup of Anchovy Herb Vinaigrette. Lift the greens out of the bowl and spread on a large serving platter.
In the bowl with the vinaigrette left in it, toss the potatoes, then remove and place on serving platter. Do the same with the haricot verts. You can also toss each of the other vegetables, but I left them plain because they are flavorful on their own.
Arrange the rest of the components on the lettuce, including the slices of seared tuna.
Whatever vinaigrette might be left in the bowl, drizzle over the hard boiled egg quarters.
Garnish with minced chives. Salt and pepper if needed.