Salade Nicoise

If you ask the experts from Provence, the only cooked item that should be included in an authentic salade Nicoise are the eggs. The tuna can come from a can or pouch, buy we like to poach a whole loin in olive oil with lemon, garlic and herbs.

Our additions of perfectly boiled potatoes tossed with vinaigrette and blanched green beans make this version something other than the traditional preparation, but it’s delicious and we don’t care.

Makes 6 servings

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Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Fresh herbs to taste

Salad

  • 3 eggs

  • 3/4 pound green beans or haricot vert, trimmed

  • 10 to 12 small potatoes such as Yukon Gold or new potatoes (about 1 pound)

  • 1 spring onion or small bunch of scallions, finely sliced

  • 1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes

  • 1 head Bibb or red leaf lettuce

  • 1 small Day Boat tuna loin, poached in olive oil (see recipe), or two 6-ounce pouches Tre-Fin Albacore Tuna with Sea Salt

  • 1/2 cup Nicoise olives

  • Herbed Aioli (recipe below)

To make the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar with the shallot and a pinch of salt. Let sit 5 minutes before adding the mustard and drizzling the oil in in a slow steady stream while whisking. Season to taste with more salt and pepper and set aside.

Cover the eggs with at least an inch of cold water. Bring the water to a vigorous boil, remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let sit 8 minutes before using a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the eggs and set aside.

Return the water to a boil, salt generously and add the beans. Boil 2 minutes, lift out with tongs or a slotted spoon and quickly rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Add the potatoes to the pan with the water, along with another pinch of salt. Return the water to a boil then reduce the heat a simmer until they are tender when pierced with a small knife, about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes from the pan into a bowl. When they are cool enough to handle, sliced thickly and toss with 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette and the spring or green onions. Gently combine to thoroughly coat the potatoes and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toss the beans with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette in a small bowl.

Halve the cherry tomatoes, add them to another small bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette.

To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves around the edge of a large platter. Add the remaining ingredients in a composed fashion, or toss the potatoes, beans and tomatoes to make a bed for the tuna and olives. Garnish with the halved hard-boiled eggs.

Herbed Aioli

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon white wine or tarragon vinegar

  • 1 cup olive oil or lighter oil such as grapeseed

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • 1 small clove garlic, grated with a microplane

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, tarragon and parsley

  • Salt and cayenne pepper

Combine the egg yolk, mustard and vinegar, whisking them for about 15 seconds, before add the olive oil in a slow, steady drizzle, while whisking continuously. When you see that the emulsification is beginning to establish (watch the side of the bowl for “ribbons” that string consistently on the edge of the bowl as you are whisking. If the ribbons become fragmented or have the appearance of more (more than egg yolk and mustard) you are adding the oil too quickly. Slow down and continue to whisk until the mixture stabilizes. Continue until all of the oil had been added.

Add the lemon juice, garlic, herbs, salt and pinch of cayenne pepper to taste. Taste and adjust the acidity. Store in the refrigerator.

Variations

During the cold weather months, we like to substitute vegetables in season. With this version, we break all the rules about cooking the items that accompany our tuna. Try lightly boiled potatoes or white beans, prepared much like the summer version; blanched fennel; thinly sliced white radishes and lightly steamed white carrots, along with the usual eggs, olives and herbed aioli. We’ve also been know to open a jar of pickled green beans from our pantry to add to the platter, and have enjoyed the addition of lightly steamed cauliflower florets.