This week our salad was chosen by Debrah. She chose Grilled Tuna Salad Nicoise. I love Nicoise salad, so I was happy with this choice.
But...it was Saturday evening, and my husband was out of town. I was feeling very lazy, and didn't want to drive to the store for ingredients. So I decided that I would make this salad only with things that were in my refrigerator or freezer. The salad was wonderful, but I did change it quite a bit. But I have no doubt that if you follow Debrah's recipe below, it will be just as good if not better.
I rarely allow myselt to go to the store and buy fish. We just have too much in our freezer. So I knew that the first substitution I would make would be to use salmon instead of tuna. I just rubbed it with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and grilled it. I have substituted salmon for tuna many times when making a nicoise salad. Then I had to decide what other ingredients I could use. I am watering a neighbor's garden while she is out of town, and I had access to her greenhouse while she was gone. So I cut fresh lettuce for the base of my salad. I didn't have any green beans or asparagus, but I had recieved 2 artichokes in my CSA shipment this week. So I cut out the hearts, drowned them in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs de province, put them in a covered pan, and baked at 375 degrees until tender. My other components were boiled new potatoes, hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, and mixed olives. Then it was time for the vinegrette. I knew I would make the classic version, as I just wouldn't consider it a nicoise salad with an asian version (see recipe below). But as I started to make it, I realized I was out of anchovy paste. So I added a little fish sauce, since I heard that was made from anchovies. It worked perfectly.
Grilled Tuna Salad Nicoise
Debrah's notes- 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 an 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.
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 it’s 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.