It seems like the colder the weather, the more I crave heavier things. Stouts, mac and cheese, pastas, stews, and basically all of the things that make you feel warm inside. But once in a while, I crave a salad. A light, but filling salad. Something packed with flavor, protein, crunch, and all those good things.
I can honestly say that I could eat this salad every single day. Ok, maybe only for a year. But no, it's really that good! And while it does take time to properly cook each ingredient and assemble, niçoise salad is worth the wait. I promise.
Ingredients for the Salad (for two):
- Mixed greens
- 1 handful French green beans (haricot vert)
- 3-4 small red potatoes
- 2 hard boiled eggs
- Niçoise olives
- 1 medium roma or 4-ish cherry tomatoes
- 10-ish oz fresh tuna steaks (about 1 medium sized ones)
- salt, pepper, olive oil
- vegetable oil (optional)
Ingredients for the dressing:
- juice of one lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- small squeeze of dijon or spicy brown mustard
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or tarragon (I used parsley)
- few pieces of thinly sliced shallots (optional)
Now, assembly for the salad can get a little bit messy, since everything has to be timed fairly well to be cooked properly. Before we assemble the food, place a big bowl of cold water with lots of ice cubes in it and let that sit in the sink. As the potatoes, eggs, and green beans are done, we're going to transfer them here to stop the cooking process so they do not overcook.
First, make the dressing. Throw everything together in a large metal or wooden bowl. Whisk together the liquids until emulsified. The garlic is in there to give the dressing flavor, but will be fished out before the salad is tossed. Let this sit while we cook the eggs, green beans, potatoes, and tuna.
in a medium large pot, boil the eggs and potatoes (clean these first) in salted water. The key to making perfect hard boiled eggs is to place them in the pot first, covered in water, and then putting the pot on the burner. This way, the eggs heat up with the water, and don't crack all over the place. For the sake of efficiency, I threw my potatoes in the same pot so that they could cook together. When the water boils, turn down the heat to medium, so that the water is just simmering. The eggs will cook for a total of about 12 minutes. After this time, fish them out and place them in a cold bowl of water in the sink.
Now, you should be left with a pot of potatoes. Those puppies will still need more time, so turn the heat back on to medium/high so that the water comes to a rolling boil. We're going to blanch the green beans. Wash and trim the stems off first. Then, drop the handful into the boiling water. Wait about 2 minutes. Then, using your kitchen tongs, fish them out of the pot and place them into the cold water. If all of the ice has melted at this point, put more in. We want those green beans nice and crisp.
The potatoes will cook until they are easily pierced with a knife or fork. Once those are done, transfer them to the cold bowl of water. Drain this bowl well, patting the vegetables with a paper towel if needed. Peel the eggs, halve them. Chop the potatoes into largeish chunks, and also slice the tomatoes.
Now we will cook the tuna. Generously salt and pepper each side of the tuna, patting the seasoning into the flesh. In a heavy cast iron or metal pan, heat up vegetable oil (or olive oil) until shimmering. We don't want it to be so hot that it smokes, but it should sizzle when flecks of water are thrown at it. Quickly sear the tuna, about 30-45 seconds on each side. When you place it into the pan, don't move it around. Let it sit, then flip once and let it sit again. Transfer this to a cutting board and slice.
Now the assembly. In the bowl containing the salad dressing, fish out the garlic chunk and then toss the mixed greens with your hand, so that each leaf is coated. Place this into your serving bowl or plate. On top of the greens, arrange the hard boiled egg, green beans, potato chunks, tomatoes, and niçoise olives. Top each plate or bowl with the sliced tuna. Enjoy with a glass of great wine. Bon appetit!