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SALAD NIÇOISE

This is one of my favourite salads - perfect for a late summer lunch or supper, at a time of the year when there is still plenty of seasonal produce around. Although it needs to be assembled just before serving, it is easy to make and several of the stages can be prepared in advance. It looks really eye-catching presented on a large platter.

Use the best tuna you can afford: regular tinned is fine, but it’s worth choosing tinned or bottled tuna in olive oil, or better still, fresh (or frozen and defrosted) tuna steaks, briefly grilled on a hot griddle.

I was surprised to learn recently that the recipe I have always used is not considered authentic by the citizens of Nice, who insist that there should be no cooked vegetables in this salad. Never mind, I’m going to give you my version – feel free to omit (or add) whatever ingredients you like!

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil (you can use some of the oil from the tuna/anchovies)
  • Salt and black pepper

For the salad:

  • 500g new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 250g French beans
  • 4 eggs
  • Half a cucumber
  • 4 juicy ripe tomatoes
  • 12 black olives
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • Canned or bottled tuna steak in oil, or 2 or 3 fresh tuna steaks
  • 1 crunchy lettuce (little gem or mini cos)
  • Handful of parsley or basil, stalks removed

Method

Crush or finely chop the garlic and anchovy fillet. Combine with the lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, mixed with some of the fish oil if you like, stir well, taste to check the seasoning, and set aside.

Cover the potatoes with cold water, add salt and boil till tender. Drain, and allow to cool slightly. When they are cool enough to handle, you can peel them, or leave them unpeeled if you prefer. Slice them roughly into a bowl. Give the dressing a stir and add about 2 tablespoons to the potatoes, turning gently to coat them.

Trim the beans and boil in lightly salted water for about 5 minutes – they should be just tender but not too soft. Drain (keep the water for the eggs) and cool in a bowl of cold water, then drain again Boil the eggs for 8 minutes, then transfer into a bowl of cold water to stop them cooking. Remove the shells.

Cut the cucumber in half lengthways (remove the seeds with a teaspoon if you like) . Slice across into half moons.

Cut the tomatoes into wedges.

Cut the anchovy fillets into slivers.

Remove the tuna from its can or jar and break into chunks.

If you are using fresh tuna, heat a griddle or heavy frying pan till very hot. Pat the steaks dry with kitchen towel, season and brush with oil, then cook them over a high heat for a couple of minutes on each side, depending on thickness. For the juiciest result, the tuna should still be slightly raw in the middle. Slice when cool enough to handle.

Wash and dry the lettuce and shred roughly. Chop the herbs.

To assemble, arrange the lettuce on a large platter (or on individual plates). Place the potatoes and beans on top, followed by the cucumber and tomatoes. Stir the dressing and pour over a couple of tablespoons. Then cut the eggs into wedges and arrange on top with the tuna, olives and anchovy slivers. Giving the dressing a final stir, pour the remainder over all the ingredients and finish by sprinkling with the chopped herbs.

Serve immediately, with crusty bread if you like, to mop up the juices.

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Sep 01, 2023