The new semester started this week, and this was the last dinner I cooked over my summer vacation. It was delicious, but was pretty involved. It really felt like I spent all day in the kitchen cooking in order to prep all the various ingredients and wait for the salad flavors to blend (it needs 4 hours of refrigeration before eating). I was excited to make it because I’m starting to experiment with anchovies, an ingredient I’ve never used before. Although all this work was worth it, I might stick to ordering this in restaurants next time.
To make this at home, it’s important to have all the ingredients prepped before you start combining the salad components and making the vinaigrette. Also, the salad gets its name from the type of olives used: Nicoise olives are a small, brownish variety with great flavor. But they were surprisingly hard to find; I was eventually able to get some at Whole Foods, but they weren’t pitted and cost over $8.00. Ouch. Pitting them was impossible, so we ended up just eating the whole olives and spitting out the pits as we went along. It worked, but the price and inconvenience leads me to think there’s got to be a better sub (even if the salad is no longer technically Nicoise). A new cookbook I have from America’s Test Kitchen suggests Kalamata olives as a suitable substitute. If you can’t find pitted Nicoise olives, I’d definitely go for another variety.
Adapted from The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook
1/3 pound green beans
1/2 pound red new potatoes
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 can oil-packed tuna, flaked out of the can with a fork
1/8 pound pitted and halved olives, either Kalamata or Nicoise
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small minced shallot
6 anchovies, soaked in water for 5 minutes and finely chopped
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 cup red or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Mixed spring lettuce or arugula, as the salad base
1. Prepare the main ingredients: cook the potatoes in boiling water until soft (try lifting it out of the water with a knife inserted into their center: they should slide easily off. If they stick, keep cooking a few minutes longer). Peel the potatoes and slice into 1/8-inch pieces. Blanch the green beans by bringing 1-inch of water to boil in a 12-inch skillet. And the green beans and cook briefly, until bright green, tender, but still crisp, about 3 minutes. Cut into thirds (or halves if they’re smaller).
2. Combine beans, potatoes, red onion, tuna, and olives in a large bowl. Toss gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours.
3. Mix lemon juice, garlic, shallot, anchovies, and vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil briskly to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Dress the potato and tuna mixture with the vinaigrette. Place a small bed of the salad greens on each plate. Divide the potato and tuna mix evenly over the plates. Top with tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs.