Thursday, August 4, 2011

Salade Nicoise & Sainte-Maure de Touraine

Salade Niçoise, or Niçoise salad, originated in the town of Nice, and is made with boiled new potatoes, steamed haricots verts, boiled eggs, local niçoise olives, cured anchovies, and tomatoes, tossed in a Dijon mustard vinaigrette and topped with tuna. This delicious recipe that we made last weekend, features fresh seared tuna, mixed purple, red and white potatoes and a mixed herb vinaigrette for a new twist on the classic Niçoise. It's important that the tuna be removed from the grill immediately after searing to achieve a 'sashimi' middle, but if you prefer your tuna more well done, just leave it on the grill a little longer. 

Sainte-Maure de Touraine

We served the salad with a warm baguette and a ripe log of French Sainte-Maure de Touraine chevre, a delicious unpasteurized goat's cheese made in the form of a small log which is white and soft under a greyish mouldy ash rind. It's unique feature is the straw through its centre, used to keep the roll together. For cheese lovers — the mouldier and smellier, the better! And with the Niçoise, the partnership was a culinary match made in heaven.

Salade Niçoise
Serves 8


2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp minced fresh tarragon
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper

1 head of curly green leaf or butter lettuce, washed and dried
1 pound small purple, red and white new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
4 large eggs
1/2 pound haricots verts, stems trimmed
2 pounds fresh sushi-quality tuna
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup nicoise olives
8 anchovy fillets

Make the vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a mason jar. Screw the cap on the jar and shake the vinaigrette vigorously to emulsify. Set the dressing aside while preparing the salad so the flavours have time to marry.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, add water to cover and a nice pinch of salt, bringing to a boil over medium heat. Simmer the potatoes for 12 minutes to give them a head start, and then add the eggs. Place a steamer basket or colander on top of the simmering water. Put the green beans in the steamer and cover with a lid. Steam the beans for 5 minutes until crisp-tender while continuing to cook the potatoes until fork tender. Drain out the water and put the potatoes, eggs, and green beans in a colander; rinse briefly under cold water. Peel the shells off the eggs and cut them in half lengthwise.

Rub the tuna on all sides with olive oil and a fair amount of salt. Lay the tuna on a hot grill and sear for approximately 2 minutes on each side. As the tuna cooks, the red meat will become whiter. Immediately transfer the tuna to a cutting board and slice it against the grain.

To assemble the salad, lay the lettuce on the bottom of a large platter. Arrange the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, anchovies, eggs and sliced tuna in a decorative fashion, overtop of the lettuce. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper and serve.