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Salade Niçoise

This classic composed salad is the quintessential summer main course.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Salade Niçoise is probably the most iconic composed salad in classical cuisine—emphasis on the “classical.” In its purist form this dish should feature fine canned tuna packed in oil, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, peeled potatoes, haricots verts, Nicoise olives specifically, and anchovies. Green and red bell pepper slices are sometimes included, but not always and certainly not necessarily. This recipe features a "black and blue" tuna, fresh ahi that is seared briefly and uniformly on all sides to feature the ruby red, fatty flesh. Mise en place is very important for this recipe: have all of the ingredients ready as they are detailed before you cook the fish and assemble the salad.

Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife; peeler; mixing bowls; measuring spoons; dry and wet measuring cups; nonstick pan; fish spatula; tongs

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1 large garlic clove, crushed

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1½ cups vegetable oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:

1½ pounds fresh tuna steak (such as ahi/bluefin)

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 ounces spring lettuces

2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 pound red bliss potatoes, peeled, boiled, and quartered

4 large hardboiled eggs, quartered

1 pound haricots verts, trimmed and blanched*

1 cup Niçoise olives, pitted

1 can anchovies (packed in oil)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* to blanch the haricots verts, bring a small pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon of kosher or sea salt. Add the haricots verts and cook for 1-2 minutes until crisp-tender and slightly darker in color. Drain and shock in ice water or rinse under cold running water to cool. Dry thoroughly on a clean dish towel or paper towels.

1. First, begin to prepare the vinaigrette. Crush the garlic clove with a chef’s knife and remove the skin. Pour the vinegar into a large bowl and add the garlic clove. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes to infuse the vinegar. Set aside.

2. To cook the tuna, first rub it on all sides with oil, then season heavily with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. When hot, place the tuna on the pan and do not move it. Let it sear for 1-2 minutes, until it turns from raw to cooked, about 1/8-inch in depth, before turning on the other side. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed. Carefully turn the tuna on its sides for 30 seconds at a time until those parts sear as well. Set aside to cool.

3. Now finish the vinaigrette. Remove the garlic from the vinegar and discard the garlic. Add the mustard and seasoning to the vinegar, and blend with a whisk. Then add the oil very slowly to the vinegar mixture, a bit at a time, as you whisk vigorously to emulsify. Set aside.

ILOC tip: each individual component of a Salade Niçoise must be dressed individually in its own bowl. The sliced "black and blue" tuna may be drizzled with vinaigrette as it is too delicate to be "tossed."

4. Slice the tuna in ¼-inch slices against the grain and set aside.

5. Wrap each olive with an anchovy and set aside. Alternatively, toss the olives in a spoonful of vinaigrette and divide evenly among the four plates of dressed lettuce. Top each pile of olives with three anchovies.

5. Dress the halved tomatoes with a spoonful of vinaigrette and divide among the four plates. Then dress the egg quarters and divide evenly among the plates.

6. Toss the haricots verts in a spoonful or two of vinaigrette and divide among the plates. Do the same with the potatoes.

7. Shingle several slices of tuna on each plate and drizzle with some vinaigrette. Season the composed plate with another pinch of kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

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