Salade Nicoise recipe
Authenticity is a broad subject that probably many people agree that we’ll never agree on, since food changes and evolves, as time goes by, and as people cross borders, using what they can get where they live. But I sometimes have an amusing image in my head that the people who are scouring the internet, pointing out inauthentic recipes, are sitting in cafes, eating chicken Caesar Salads. (The true Caesar Salad doesn’t have chicken on it. Or tomatoes, shrimp, corn, or tortilla chips, which I’ve seen.)
I didn’t know a lot about Salade Niçoise, the true version, until I came to France. But even so, your chances of finding a vrai (true) Salade Niçoise are almost nil. I’ve seen versions that have everything from rice to Parmesan on them, and some even have cooked green beans and potatoes.
What? You are probably saying to yourself. Potatoes and green beans are supposed to be on a Salade Niçoise – right? Well, not really. A true Niçoise Salad only has raw vegetables. It can have anchovies or canned tuna, but never both, and neither is required. (Grilled tuna is another no-no.) The only thing cooked on the salad are hard-boiled eggs.
Before you click away in shame or disbelief, it’s fine if you want to use all those things on your salad. I’m okay with defunding the authenticity police. But if you want to make a true Salade Niçoise, that’s what’s happening here.
- 300g small new potato
- 100g fine green bean , trimmed
- 3 eggs , as fresh as you can get them
- 2 Baby Gem lettuces , outside leaves trimmed off
- 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 200g cherry tomato , halved
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- small handful basil leaves
- 325g piece fresh tuna loin
- ½ lemon , juiced
For the olive dressing
- 50g black olive , preferably niçoise, pitted
- 5 marinated anchovies fillets
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ lemon , juiced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- STEP 1
First, make the dressing. Tip the olives, anchovies and garlic into a large mortar and mash with a pestle until you have a very rough paste. Scrape into a bowl, if you like, stir in the lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar, then set aside.
- STEP 2
Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 15 mins until tender, then drain and set aside. Cook the beans in boiling salted water for 4-5 mins until tender with a slight crunch. Drain, tip into iced water, then drain again and set aside. Boil a small pan of water and cook the eggs until cooked to your liking, about 6 mins for a soft yolk and 7½ mins for a harder yolk.
- STEP 3
Halve the potatoes and heat 2 tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan. Place the potatoes cut-side down in the pan and sizzle for about 4 mins until golden and crisp. Toss the potatoes in the pan to brown on all sides, then turn up the heat and add the tomatoes. Fry the tomatoes for about 1 min until just starting to blister, then season. Splash in 1 tbsp of the balsamic vinegar, then turn off the heat and scatter over the basil.
- STEP 4
To cook the tuna, place a non-stick frying pan over a high heat, then turn the heat down to medium and add 1 tbsp oil. Season the tuna generously, then sear for 4 mins, leaving it undisturbed in the pan to brown. Turn over and continue to cook for 4 mins on the other side. This will give you very rare tuna. For rare, cook for 2 mins more on each side and for well done, add another 4 mins on each side. Set the tuna aside to rest for a few mins.
- STEP 5
To serve, whisk the remaining oil and vinegar with the lemon juice in a small bowl and toss in the lettuce wedges. Place a spoonful of olive dressing into 2 serving bowls, arrange the potatoes and tomatoes over, then put a pile of beans on top. Slice the tuna in half at a slight angle and place each half on top of the beans. Wedge the lettuce around the outside, halve the eggs and position in between the lettuce. Dollop a small spoonful of olive dressing on each egg.