A composed salad served over mixed lettuce with a Dijon Vinaigrette
As a Singleton, I used to eat little pieces of this, bits of that for dinner. Standing at the fridge, I’d grab a jar of olives, tub of hummus to go with pitas in the pantry, maybe a hunk of cheese. Voila! Dinner! Perhaps that is why I have an affinity for composed salads? A little of this, a little of that. Enter Salad Nicoise – the Queen of all composed salads.
I’m sure that traditionally, Salad Nicoise is composed of a particular set of ingredients – and most often I’ve seen canned Tuna, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, hard boiled eggs and Nicoise olives – but I think the genious in these types of salads is that you can use whatever you have on-hand that is fresh and good (ok, regardless, I’m pretty much sticking with the aforementioned list because it is just so good as is).
A really sweet trick
Tomatoes aren’t quite ripe here in the Midwest, so I’m using a pint of grape tomatoes. Halving an entire pint of grape tomatoes is a ROYAL PITA. But I recently learned a cool trick from non other than Rachel Ray when I was home sick a few weeks ago – so I can no longer say she’s taught me nothing (I kid! Personalityquirks aside, she’s actually done some rather admirable things).
Anyway, here’s the trick to slicing an entire pint of grape tomatoes in 1 minute flat:
1. Grab a small tupperware lid (takeout containers from the deli would work well) and place it with rim side up.
2. Place your tomatoes on the lid – the rim will keep them contained.
3. Put another tupperware lid on top of the tomatoes.
4. Press down pretty firmly with one hand and with your other hand, take your SHARP knive and CAREFULLY slice horizontally through the middle of the tomatoes. You may have to saw back and forth a little to get it going, but once it goes, your knife will slide through all the tomatoes at once.
How flipping cool is that??!! Ok, I thought it was. I used to slice them individually like an idiot and bemoan how long it took.
First contain your tomatoes so they don't roll around.
Then put a lid on them before slicing horizontally through the middle.
Ok, back on track
So back to the salad. You could used canned tuna for this recipe. I was a little overwhelmed in the canned tuna section at the store – so many options! – and I knew I should really get some imported brand packed in oil. But alas, my store didn’t carry that and there was no way I was going anywhere else. So I thought I’d grab a cheap tuna steak and throw it on the grill. You could get a really nice piece and sear it on each side, or be cheap like me and get a not-so-nice piece and cook it all the way through. Your choice!
Grilled Tuna Salad Nicoise
Serves 2-4 (depending on if you serve anything else with it)
2 lb potatoes
1/2 lb green beans
1 pint grape tomatoes – halved
6 hard boiled eggs – sliced
6 oz tuna steak
olives – I only used enough for me cause my husband hates them. Use your own discretion.
salt and pepper to taste
serve over – 5oz mixed greens
Salad Dressing Ingredients:
1/3 cup minced chives or green onions (less elegant, but it’s what I had on hand)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 t kosher salt
1 t Dijon mustard
1 t honey
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup olive oil
1 T chopped fresh basil (kind of optional, but I threw it in)
1 t chopped fresh thyme (again, optional)
Get your grill ready
1. Make vinaigrette – in a bowl, whisk together vinegar, garlic, honey, and mustard till well combined. Add oil in a small stream while continuing to whisk until emulsified. Add basil, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
2. Boil potatoes till desired doneness – approximately 15 minutes. Drain and when cool enough to touch, quarter and toss with 2 T of vinaigrette. Set aside.
3. Steam green beans till desired doneness – maybe 5 minutes. Transfer to ice bath to stop cooking process. Drain, dry, toss with 1 T of vinaigrette and set aside.
4. Salt and pepper tuna steak and grill over high heat till desired doneness. Depends on how rare you want your tuna and how thick it is – maybe 4 min ea side for medium. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice.
5. Compose your salad – toss lettuce with 2 T of vinaigrette and arrange on dinner plates. Place tuna, eggs, green beans, tomatoes, and olives on a serving platter. Add bits and pieces to your dinner plate as desired. Toss with more vinaigrette on your plate if necessary. Salt and pepper to taste.
Ms. Pantry Raid
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