Niçoise Salad with Canned Tuna

With warmer weather upon us, hearty salads are my go to dinner! Salads are a great way to lighten up your dinners for summer and keep you from sweating over the stove. Even if there is some cooking involved with a salad recipe, it can usually be done earlier in the day before it gets too warm. This salad happens to be one of my favorites. It’s a classic that I’m sure you have probably had before, but maybe forgot about. It is great as a dinner salad because it is substantial and filling with the tuna and eggs to give you some healthy protein.

I make this Niçoise salad salad with a good canned tuna, but it is even better with a sushi grade ahi that has been seared and kept rare. It’s also great with grilled salmon. If you go with canned or jarred tuna, make sure you use a good brand like Wild Planet or an imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil. It really makes a difference! You also want to use really good olives…Niçoise if you can find them.  I couldn’t, so I bought a good quality green olive. As far as your greens go, you can really use what ever you like best. I like a hearty lettuce like romaine combined with something a little more delicate, like butter lettuce.

Niçoise salad is all about presentation. You serve it with all of the ingredients laid out separately, never tossed. It’s a great salad to serve for company (especially with fresh fish) because of it’s beautiful presentation.

Niçoise salad

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 of a small shallot, minced
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • handful of fresh Italian Parsley
  • a couple dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (the anchovies and capers are salty so you won’t need too much salt)

For the dressing:

In the bowl of a small food processor combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and pulse until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn on while adding the olive oil slowly to emulsify. Set aside until ready to use.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound small potatoes (red, Yukon gold, or fingerlings), washed well
  • 8 ounces haricots verts (French green beans), or small, thin green beans, ends trimmed
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
  • 12-16 good quality olives of your choice
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 – 5 ounce cans of good quality tuna
  • 1 small shallot, chopped small
  • small handful of Italian parsley, chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces of washed lettuce of your choice, torn into small pieces (I love Romaine for this salad)

Make the salad dressing and set aside. Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water and add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until done (test with a sharp knife in the center of the potato, it should be tender in the center but not mushy). Drain potatoes and cut in half or quarters, depending on their size. Add to a bowl and while still warm, toss with about a tablespoon of the dressing.  Blanch the green beans in boiling salted water for about 5 minutes and shock in cold water. Lay them on paper towels to dry. Drain the tuna and put it in a bowl with the chopped shallot,  chopped parsley, squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well to combine. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with some of the dressing.

To assemble the salad: In a large shallow bowl or plate put a layer of the lettuce down first. In the center on top of the lettuce, put a quarter of the tuna. Around the tuna on top of the lettuce, arrange the green beans, one of the boiled eggs, a quarter of the dressed potatoes, a few of the olives, and a few of the tomatoes. Drizzle a little of the dressing over the top of the salad and season with more salt and pepper. Serve with good crusty bread and a crisp glass of sauvingon blanc.


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