Fill a large platter with arugula and watercress and arrange the different components of this Nicoise salad on top. The presentation is colorful and very impressive. Nicoise salad is a French classic at its best. Canned tuna in water or olive oil can be substituted.—Jamie Gwen
For the vinaigrette salad dressing
1/2 cup Champagne vinegar
1 Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts only
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
For the french potato salad
1 pound small white boiling potatoes
1 pound small red boiling potatoes
1/2 cup vinaigrette salad dressing
For the nicoise salad
Four 1-inch-thick fresh tuna steaks (about 2 pounds)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound French string beans (haricots verts), stems removed and blanched
1 recipe French Potato Salad (above)
8 ripe roma tomatoes cut into wedges
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half
1/2 pound good black olives, pitted
1 can anchovies (optional)
1 bunch watercress or arugula
Make the vinaigrette
1. Using a blender, or with a whisk in a mixing bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard, anchovy paste, and salt and pepper. Pulse to combine. With the motor running, slowly drizzle the olive oil until the dressing is thick and luscious. Stir in the scallions, dill, parsley, and basil. Set aside.
Make the french potato salad
1. Boil the white and red potatoes into a large pot of salted water until they are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow them to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes in quarters and place them in a medium bowl.
2. Add the 1/2 cup, or more to taste, of the vinaigrette to the potatoes while they’re still warm and toss the salad to coat. Allow the vinaigrette to soak into the potatoes for half an hour before using. Set the salad aside.
Cook the tuna
Heat a saute pan or stove-top grill until very hot. Brush the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill each tuna steak for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. The center should be raw but warm, or the tuna will be tough and dry.
2. To make the salad, arrange the tuna, haricots verts, potato salad, tomatoes, eggs, olives, and anchovies on top of the arugula or watercress on a large platter and serve immediately.
Recipe © 2007 by Jamie Gwen. All rights reserved.