This Sunday's recipe for "Grilled Tuna Salad Nicoise" was contributed by Slow Traveler Debrah. I like tuna in a can and love raw tuna in sushi, but I'm not that crazy about grilled tuna so I substituted some marinated beans and ended up with a vegetarian version.
I roasted fennel, an orange pepper, spring onions, and cherry tomatoes, and added those to steamed green beans, boiled new potatoes, the marinated beans, and an egg. Debrah gave us a choice of dressings and I made the traditional one and also put a few capers on top of the whole thing. It was very tasty and quite a beautiful salad, plus it was fun to make.
Wikipedia tells us that "Salade Niçoise comes in many different forms and its 'true' ingredients are often debated" so I don't feel too bad about tinkering with this except that I forgot to buy Nicoise olives and used Spanish instead, so maybe I should just call it composed salad. :) My version is in the photo and Debrah's original recipe is below.
The recipe below is to serve 2 people but clearly, you can just double it or triple it at will. Anyone who has read recipes I have posted in the past may remember that I am rather loose in my interpretation of recipes but I hope that this fairly straightforward composed salad is easy to make.
Because I couldn’t decide which dressing is my favourite, I am giving two alternatives, one for a more traditional dressing and one for an Asian Dressing, which I think goes exceedingly well with the Tuna.
Grilled Tuna Salad Nicoise
2 Tuna Steaks
2 cups Green Beans or asparagus - whichever is freshest (cut in half for presentation purposes)
2 cups cooked Potatoes (sliced, diced or quartered depending upon size)
12 Olives (use your favorite, or a mixture - obviously, nicoise are the classic)
1 Orange or yellow pepper
2 Green Onions
1 cup Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
1 hard boiled egg (if following classic recipe)
*Optional: spring baby carrots or radishes - scrubbed served whole
Dressing: (should be made up prior to cooking veggies)
Classic: (put all ingredients into a jar, cover and shake)
1/4 Red wine vinegar
2 small or one large shallot (minced finely)
4 T. olive oil (or toasted walnut or hazelnut oil)
½ t. anchovy paste (optional)
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 t. whole grain mustard
pinch of thyme
Asian (put all ingredients into a jar, cover and shake)
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
4 T Sesame Oil
Garlic - 2 cloves crushed
Ginger - about 1 tablespoon grated
4 T olive oil
Steam or parboil green beans or asparagus until just tender crisp. Put into ice water to stop cooking process.
Cook small potatoes (fingerlings are an idea) whole. Let cool, cut into shape you desire and pour a small amount of dressing on and chill. I roast or grill the peppers and tomatoes (with a small amount of either dressing tossed on). I like to cook the tomatoes until they release their juice and carmelize a bit. (If you are using really fresh flavourful tomatoes, you don’t need to bother!)
Put tuna steaks on the grill, brush with dressing and cook to your preference.
Plating: I like to present it is a composed salad - so each ingredient is given its own space on the plate, including the Tuna. Arrange the two plates, dividing up the vegetables, drizzle with dressing and serve.
*Clearly, you can use any vegetable you desire to finish up your plating. I think that tiny carrots whole and whole radishes add impact and more nutrients to the meal.