Classic Salad Niçoise with fresh tuna. Plate by Robert Gordon Australia. Photo Eve Wilson, recipe and styling Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Niçoise ingredients. Plate by Robert Gordon Australia. Photo Eve Wilson, recipe and styling Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Gawd it’s a really daunting thing sharing a Salad Niçoise recipe. It’s such a CLASSIC, you can really get in trouble if you muck about with it too much! For that reason I’ve stuck to a pretty textbook Niçoise here – which is not to say you can’t add anything else you wish (steamed kipfler potatoes, capsicum, avocado, etc etc), but for the purists out there, I hope this version satisfies!
I love this salad for a weeknight dinner – it’s so ridiculously healthy and nutrient-packed, but so dense and satisfying, especially when using fresh tuna steaks. It’s tempting to omit the anchovies I know, but try and resist. I shall not hear a bad word about anchovies until you have tried a really posh, gourmet one. Have you TASTED Ortiz anchovies!? Just give them a burl, I’m sure your tastebuds have changed since you were 10, these flavour-packed little fellas really do elevate this dish beyond a plain old leafy salad with French dressing, so please try!
The other thing to say, of course, is that you can certainly serve this salad with tinned tuna instead of fresh. Much easier if you’re pressed for time. If you do go down this route, for the love of FOOD please get tuna in olive oil, Italian style, rather than springwater – it is 1000% more delicious!
For the Salad
2 x fresh tuna fillets (tuna fillets can be quite large, you could stretch one between two serves if serving as a starter / side dish)
2 x free range eggs
100g fresh green beans
1 handful cherry tomatoes
1 x baby cos / butter lettuce
½ Lebanese cucumber
1 small handful small black olives in oil
1 small handful fresh basil
1 tin of Ortiz Anchovies (or similar)
For the Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and pepper
Pinch of raw sugar
1 clove garlic
This recipe serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a starter or side dish.
Freshly grilled tuna – super rare! Photo Eve Wilson, recipe and styling Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
First, make your dressing. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small glass jar. Bruise your garlic clove with the flat side of a large knife, peel and pop into the jar whole. Shake vigorously to combine all ingredients, and leave the garlic clove to steep in the dressing for 30 minutes – remove it before serving.
Hardboil your eggs. (Add eggs to a small pot of cold water, bring to the boil and once boiling, cook for 4-5 minutes – 5 if you prefer a hard yolk). Once cooked, pop them into a bowl of cold water to cool. One cooled, peel and slice each egg in half.
Top and tail your green beans, slice your tasty little tomatoes into quarters, wash and spin your salad leaves thoroughly, wash and tear basil leaves, slice your cucumber. Remove anchovies from the tin and blot a little of the excess oil on paper towel.
Bring a small pot of water to the boil. Add your green beans, and cook for no longer than 2 minutes! As soon as they start looking deep green, grab one from the pot and taste test – you really want to retain some crunch! Once ready, drain immediately and rinse under cold water to stop them cooking.
Before cooking the tuna, build your salad on your serving plates. The tuna is very quick to cook and best eaten fresh from the pan, so it’s best to have the rest of the salad ready to go! Plate up a few leaves of either cos or butter lettuce, add your other veggies, basil leaves, anchovies, olives and eggs. One they’re cooled, add the beans too.
Now for the tuna. Put a ridged frypan or griddle on the stove, turning heat to high. Coat your tuna steak/s in olive oil on either side, then add to your hot pan. Try not to move them around once on the pan. For a very rare tune steak as pictured here, the tuna will need no longer than 1 minute on each side. If you prefer it slightly less rare, up to 2 mins on each side should do the trick. Once cooked, remove from pan and slice as pictured. Add a quick drizzle of good quality olive oil and a sprinkle of salt flakes and black pepper.
Divide tuna between plates, sitting alongside the salad rather than on top, so as not to wilt your salad leaves. Dress your salad immediately before serving. And give yourself a pat on the back for making such a stupendously delicious, healthy and satisfying dinner!