Thursday, August 8, 2013

Niçoise Salad with Seared Sashimi Tuna

Traditionally made with local olives, oil-cured tuna and anchovies, this protein-rich salad from Provence has become a staple in brasseries all over France.
Inspired by the classic French recipe, this Salade Niçoise features seared sashimi-grade tuna for a contemporary version of the time honoured classic. Composed with a combination of red, white and purple small new potatoes, fresh green beans, mixed lettuce, spring onions and farm fresh eggs from Brooklands Farm in Muskoka, together with pitted Nicoise olives, small sweet grape tomatoes from the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, and sashimi-grade tuna and anchovies from Diana's Seafood at Warden and Lawrence, this 'new wave' Sashimi-Style Salad Niçoise was absolutely outstanding — a symphony of colour, texture and flavour. Magnifique!

Seared Sashimi Tuna Salade Niçoise
Serves 8

8 cups mixed salad greens
1 pound small purple, red and white new potatoes
4 large eggs
1/2 pound haricots verts, stems trimmed
2 pounds fresh sushi-grade tuna, cut into somewhat uniform logs

1/4 cups black and white sesame seeds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup nicoise olives, pitted
8 anchovy fillets

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

Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously to emulsify. Set the dressing aside.

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.

Pour the sesame seeds on a large plate and coat the tuna on all sides. Preheat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the tuna and sear for approximately 10-15 seconds on each side. As the tuna cooks, the red meat will become whiter. Add additional oil to the plan and repeat until the remaining tuna is seared. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and slice it against the grain into 1/4-inch thick pieces.

Toss the lettuce in a large bowl with 1/3 of the dressing to coat. Place the green beans, potatoes and tomatoes in another bowl and drizzle with another 1/3 of dressing to lightly coat. 
To assemble the salad, lay the dressed lettuce on the bottom of a large platter. Arrange the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives and anchovies over the lettuce, arranging the eggs around the edge. Finish with a layer of seared tuna and drizzle with the final 1/3 of vinaigrette. Season with Maldon salt, fresh cracked pepper and serve.