As we move into late spring and summer, my salad intake increases precipitously. I don’t mean side salads, I mean salads that are meals. This almost Niçoise salad fits the bill quite nicely. Traditional Niçoise includes greens, tomato wedges, hard boiled eggs, canned tuna, olives, potatoes, string beans, and anchovies. That’s a lot to prepare at home and is totally unnecessary. The must have ingredients are good tuna and hard boiled eggs. Sear some fresh tuna rather than use canned for an even better experience.
The key, like with all salads, is freshness so try to find a farmer’s market, which are helpfully spreading throughout the city. I got all of these ingredients at the Borough Hall farmer’s market including tuna and farm fresh eggs, which for some reason always have really bright and delicious yolks.
The best method I’ve found for hard boiled eggs comes slightly modified from Mark Bittman in his entry entirely about eggs – it’s probably my favorite post of his. Cover with cold water, bring to boil, turn off the heat and leave covered for eight minutes. Immediately remove the eggs to a cold water bath – a very important step, as the eggs will continue to cook if you don’t do this. A bowl of crushed ice mixed with water works well. Overcooked hard boiled eggs will develop that ugly green sheen around the yolks and should be avoided at all costs. Bittman suggests leaving them in the hot water for “no more than nine minutes” before placing them in the ice bath but I usually opt for 7-8 minutes; I like the yolks just the slightest bit soft in the middle.
- ⅔ pound fresh tuna steak
- 4 eggs
- A good amount of lettuce, washed and chopped if there are big leaves - any variety works
- 3 medium tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- Dijon vinaigrette (recipe follows)
- Place 4 eggs in a small pot and cover with cold water. (Or use more eggs and reserve the rest for another use - I'm sure they'll go quick). Put the pot on the stove at high heat. When the water boils, turn off the flame and set a timer for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, light a broiler or grill. Rinse and pat dry the tuna with paper towels, then sprinkle with a good amount of salt and pepper.
- Cook the tuna for no more than 1 minute per side. You can also do this in a pan with a little oil but I like the char of the grill. Remove the tuna promptly to a plate and place in the refrigerator so it does not continue cooking.
- Make an ice bath of crushed or cubed ice with water in a bowl large enough for the eggs. When the egg timer goes off, immediately remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice bath.
- Put a mound of lettuce on each of 4 plates. Cut tomatoes into 7 or 8 wedges each and arrange them around the lettuce. Remove the egg shells and slice the eggs, placing one sliced egg on each plate. Take the tuna out of the refrigerator - it should be about room temperature - and cut thick slices against the grain. Arrange on top and sprinkle with parsley.
- Serve with Dijon vinaigrette - dice 1 garlic clove really fine and combine with good olive oil, balsamic or other vinegar, and a tablespoon or so of Dijon mustard. Mix or whisk well.