The French just seem to have a flair for putting together simple but amazing flavors plated in that perfectly non-perfect way. This salad is one of the best ever invented and my first pick for a summer dinner party.
Salad Niçoise hails from Nice, France on the Mediterranean Sea. Niçoise salads always include tuna, vegetables, anchovies, olives, potatoes and hard-boiled eggs. I’ve done a riff on the classic. I’ve used anchovy paste in the vinaigrette instead of on the platter. I’ve subbed in asparagus for the green beans, fresh Ahi grade tuna instead of canned, white beans instead of potatoes, and made 7-minute eggs that are a perfect texture between soft and hard-boiled. I’m delighted with the results.
This meal makes for an elegant evening on the patio. I recommend a festive rosé Champagne. Champagne’s deceptively high acidity will contrast with the richness of the tuna while standing up to the dressing’s vinegary tang.
- For Vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup red-wine vinegar
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. anchovy paste
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- For Salad:
- 4 cups of romaine, chopped
- 1-16 oz can cannellini or gigante beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 large eggs
- 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1-2 cucumbers, peeled and diced
- 6-8 radishes, sliced thin
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
- 2 pounds fresh sushi-quality tuna
- 2 Tbls. olive oil
- ½ bunch fresh chives, minced
- To make the vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in a mason jar. Screw the cap on the jar and shake the vinaigrette vigorously to emulsify. Set the dressing aside while preparing the salad.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling bowl. Add eggs with a slotted spoon and boil for 7 minutes. Remove eggs to an ice water bath to stop cooking. Once cooled, remove from water and peel. Place eggs in the refrigerator until you are ready for assembly. In the same saucepan, return to a boil and add asparagus. Boil 3 minutes until asparagus is bright green. Remove to ice water bath to stop cooking. Once cool, remove asparagus to a plate and dry with paper towels. Set aside until you are ready for assembly.
- Heat a grill or large skillet over medium-high heat . Rub the tuna on all sides with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sear the tuna for approximately 2 minutes on each side; as the tuna cooks, the red meat will become whiter. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and slice.
- To assemble the salad: Place the tuna in the center of a large platter. Assemble the romaine, beans, asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and kalamata olives in bunches around the tuna. Slice the eggs in half and gently place on platter. Take the vinaigrette and give it another good shake to recombine. Drizzle the salad with the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. The important thing about nicoise salad is that it is arranged nicely on a platter with all the elements keeping their individual integrity.Serve immediately.