Classic Salad Nicoise

After indulging in all the heavy foods of winter, I’m now ready for something fresh, easy and a little lighter on the palate.  My ‘go to’ dish this time of year is frequently salad, especially one that has some good protein in it and is best served not quite so chilled.

Behold the Salad Nicoise (pronounced nee-SUAZ), the classic French version of the tuna salad. Originating in Nice, it’s generally served composed rather than mixed, at room temperature-ish, and topped with freshly grilled tuna chunks that have been lightly marinated in some of the vinaigrette dressing before cooking. Its elegant, simple and satisfyingly delicious…add a little crusty bread and coastal Pinot Noir and your set!

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

§  1/2 cup lemon juice

§  3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

§  1 medium shallot, minced

§  1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme leaves

§  2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil leaves

§  2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves

§  1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

§  Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad

§  2 grilled or sautéed tuna steaks (8 oz. each) that have been marinating in about 1/3 of the dressing for an hour– salmon is a great sub if desired

§  6 hardboiled eggs, cooled, peeled and quartered

§  10 small new red potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered, blanched until tender yet firm, cooled and set aside

§  2 medium heads Boston or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces

§  3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths

§  1 small red onion, sliced very thin

§  8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed, blanched until tender yet firm, cooled and set aside

§  1/4 cup Niçoise or Greek olives

§  2 Tbsp. capers, rinsed, and/or several anchovies (optional)

Directions

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients; then toss lettuce with a tablespoon of dressing and layer on platter.

Toss potatoes with a tablespoon of dressing and arrange in a line on lettuce leafs, do the same with the green beans, then the tomatoes and onions.

Arrange eggs, olives and capers and anchovies (if using).

Cut tuna into bite-sized chunks, toss with dressing and mound on platter; then drizzle remaining dressing on salad and serve immediately!

About Denise and Andrew McCreery, owners of d’Vine Gourmet

Andrew has spent his entire career in the wine business and has traveled the world working with wine makers and distributors to perfect his craft and knowledge base. Denise, a self taught gourmet cook and candy maker, started d’Vine Gourmet in 2003 by turning some of Andrew’s wine into jam and selling it at farmer’s markets. d’Vine Gourmet is now a full service, gourmet good, wine and gift basket shop located in the Promenade at Fulton Ranch, and is open seven days a week. DVineGourmet.com