The Nicoise Salad.
There is so much going on it might look like it’s got everything but the kitchen sink; but break that down and examine what it’s offering: soft, sweet greens… a meaty tuna steak (pure protein)… ripe cherry tomatoes (nature’s candy, at the peak of their season, it’s a little red garden kiss)… crunchy green beans… soft, satisfying potatoes that soak up the vinaigrette… vinegary fruity olives… creamy hard-cooked eggs… all pulled together with a vinaigrette made with the best olive oil you can afford. This is the Salad of all salads, folks. It’s the best of everything — all on one plate.
At the risk of making you think I’ve gone over the deep end, I believe Aristotle might have had the Nicoise Salad in mind when he said, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” It’s a marriage of the best quality ingredients and execution of technique. If ever you wanted to improve your cooking skills, make this salad a few times this month. Each component for this salad requires a technique. The better you are at mastering each technique, the more amazing this salad becomes. And the best part of using this salad to practice your skills: you get to eat your efforts! Rip open a crusty baguette and open a bottle of wine (a dry rosé would be perfect, by the way). Think of us when you do. Cheers!
- prepare each ingredient separately and keep chilled in the fridge, then assemble the salad as described below in the instructions
- We have provided a technique video for each of the components of this salad. The complete video portfolio can be viewed on Vimeo: http://vimeopro.com/dearmartini/nicoise-salad
½ cup vinaigrette, recipe follows
2 large handfuls of salad greens, washed and spun dry (we prefer baby romaine)
4 hard boiled eggs, chilled and peeled
1 cup haricots vert, blanched and chilled
6 small potatoes, boiled and chilled (red or Yukon Gold)
¼ cup Nicoise or Kalamata olives, pitted
1 (8-ounce) sashimi-grade Ahi tuna steak, seared and rested
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A. Prepare the salad components:
- Place a large serving dish or platter in your fridge to chill.
- Make a batch of vinaigrette and set aside.
- Prepare the salad greens keep covered in the fridge with a damp paper towel.
- Make the hard-cooked eggs. Peel and chill them.
- Trim and blanch the haricots vert. Drain from the ice bath and keep chilled.
- Boil the potatoes and toss in a separate bowl with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Set aside.
- Halve the cherry tomatoes and set aside.
- To sear the tuna, heat a stainless steel pan over high flame. As the pan is heating, generously season both sides of the tuna with salt and pepper. The pan will be heated properly when water beads as it’s sprinkled into the pan. Let the water evaporate from the pan before adding the oil. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil and place the tuna on the pan to sear one side for 45 seconds. Carefully lift the tuna and flip to the other side and sear for another 45 seconds on the other side. Immediately remove the tuna from the pan onto a plate and tent with foil for 10 minutes.
B. Assemble the salad:
- in this composition, the sliced tuna steak will take center stage. The rest of the components will surround the tuna around the edges of the platter.
- Use the same bowl to toss each separate component with vinaigrette.
- Lightly toss the salad greens with salt, pepper and vinaigrette and arrange on the platter.
- Peel the hard-cooked eggs. Cut them in half and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lightly drizzle with a teaspoon of vinaigrette. Arrange them on the platter.
- Cut the potatoes in half and toss with more vinaigrette. Arrange them on the platter.
- Toss the haricots vert with salt, pepper and vinaigrette. Arrange them on the platter.
- Toss the cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette and arrange them on the platter.
- Arrange the olives on the platter.
- Slice the tuna in ¼-inch slices across the grain and arrange in the center of the platter.
- Drizzle some more vinaigrette over the top of the salad and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve immediately.
C. Vinaigrette for Nicoise Salad — ah yes, remember this one?
Makes 1 cup
¼ cup Champagne vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon or stone-ground mustard
generous pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons minced parsley
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Add all of the ingredients into a clean jar (preferably one that is 12 – 16 ounces in capacity). Make sure the lid is on tight and shake to combine. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to use.