Nearly Niçoise Tuna Salad

Tuna nicoise

This French salad (Niçoise means from Nice, France) is a far cry from the mayonnaise-drenched tuna and celery salad of my childhood. Traditionally it’s served with anchovies and I’ve had a fancy version made with seared sushi grade tuna. This is my “shelter-in-place” version, made from what’s left in my pantry and fridge a week and half since I braved the grocery store. The eggs are cooked a minute beyond “jammy.” This was enough for a nice lunch with my husband, still tasty if not altogether authentic.

Salad ingredients: (serves 2)

5 oz can tuna in olive oil

Iced water (half ice water and half crushed ice) in a bowl

2 eggs

1 tsp Kosher salt

a couple of handfuls of fresh or frozen green beans (You can get fancy French with skinny haricot verts)

1 medium white or red potato

2 bay leaves

Several grinds black pepper

A couple of handfuls of spring salad mix

A handful of mini cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes

10 salty olives. I had Manzanillas on hand (a packet from Trader Joe’s)

A few pieces of avocado if you like

Dressing ingredients:

2 Tb lemon juice

1 Tb water

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp dried tarragon

1/4 tsp dried dill weed

Pinch of Kosher salt

Several grinds black pepper

3 Tb Olive oil (EVOO is best)

Oil drained from tuna can

Directions:

Place can of tuna in the refrigerator right before you start to cook.

Have a bowlful of iced water ready.

Boil salted water in a medium saucepan (It should come up 2/3 of the way.) Gently place the eggs in the water using a slotted spoon. Lower heat to medium so the water is boiling gently. Cover pot and cook for 7 -8 minutes. Remove eggs from pot and place in iced water.

Put a couple of handfuls of green beans in the boiling water. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes, until they are bright green. Fish out the green beans with the slotted spoon and place in the iced water, adding more ice.

Add a bay leaf or two and a couple of grinds of black pepper to the boiling water. Stab the potato a few times and lower into the water. Cook, covered for about 18 minutes, or until potato is fork-tender but still firm.

Remove green beans and eggs from the iced water and put in the potato. Place the green beans on a paper towel to drain. Peel the eggs, starting at the flat end where the air pocket is, which makes so much easier! Rinse them, then cut in half crosswise. Remove the potato from the iced water when it’s cool enough to handle and gently peel it by hand, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

Make Dressing: 

Whisk together lemon juice, water, mustard, tarragon, dill, salt and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking. Open tuna fish can and drain oil into the dressing and whisk well until emulsified. (The mustard helps with the emulsification.) You can also do this in a blender.

Put salad greens on plates and place tuna in the middle of each plate on top of the greens. Place eggs, potatoes, and green beans each in its own area around the tuna. Scatter the olives, tomatoes, and avocado over the salad. Generously pour dressing over the salad.

Bon appétit!