Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Salad Nicoise

As salads go, this one is substantial enough to eat on a dreary winter's day in February. If you order this dish at Pizza Express, or any other Italian chain restaurant, you get a tinned tuna salad with olives. This could not be further from its Provencal origins (as in 'Nice' in France, so why you only find this salad in Italian restaurants is beyond me).

Buy fresh tuna and only lightly sear it - I actually prefer tuna raw, but it's not authentic Nicoise if I don't cook it a bit.

Although salads aren't really cooking - and are really an assembly job, this dish looks so spectacular that your friends will truly be wowed by the colours and flavours not to notice that you have hardly slaved over their lunch (but have been dancing around the kitchen, listening to Daft Punk, drinking beer and creating kitchen art instead).

Serve this salad on a huge serving platter and be as creative as you dare with the final presentation. I favour neat, symmetrical combinations of ingredients myself, but a salad-y 'organised chaos' is great too.

Tuna loin is not cheap at £15 per kilo at my local supermarket, but this dish still comes in at £3 per serving.

Serves 4

Salad Nicoise


400g tuna loin, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
Pinches of salt and pepper
200g baby new potatoes
200g fine green beans
4 eggs
1 round lettuce
4 tomatoes, cut into 2cm dice
1 cucumber, cut into 2cm dice
1 yellow pepper, cut into 2cm dice
100g green olives
1 red onion, cut into fine half moons

In a hot pan, sear the tuna loin pieces in the olive oil until cooked to a depth of 2mm and still raw in the middle. Sprinkle with the oregano and salt and pepper and allow to cool. In a large saucepan, boil the potatoes for 10 minutes, then add the eggs for 3 minutes, then add the beans for a further 3 minutes (16 minutes total). Remove the potatoes, eggs and beans from the pan and allow to cool. Arrange the salad vegetables on the serving platter with the cooled potatoes and beans. Quarter the eggs and arrange on the platter. Top with the tuna loin pieces. Sprinkle with Nicoise dressing just before serving.


Nicoise Dressing


100ml olive oil
50ml red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of dried basil
Pinches of salt and pepper

Mix ingredients and set aside until needed.

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