I love Tuna Nicoise Salad. It’s one of my favourites. Although I would usually choose to have it in the summer, I had some fresh anchovies left over from the Christmas celebrations and needed to use them inventively…… With the strangely unwintery temperatures we have been having, salad didn’t seem that out of place.
Being a new year and feeling rather blobby after the seasonal binge on rich calorific food, I have also been trying to (at least) start the year on a more healthy note. I am not usually great at keeping to New Year resolutions (or goals as I prefer to frame them), but scarily, I reach the big 5…..0 this year and am finding it a little more confronting than expected. Whilst I am trying my best to avoid a full-on mid-life crisis, there is a creeping realisation that my body is not as flexible, sturdy or reliable as it used to be and I need to make a more concerted effort to consider and balance my health and well-being.
My New Year goal is ‘simple’…… to be true to myself! I came late to both marriage and parenting and I think somewhere down the road of adjusting to both I lost my way a little…… It is time to be me again! That means finding a way to be confident in my shell……. fitter, more honest about life and more assertive in getting back on track. Oh….. and I could do with losing a few pounds too. My age (and hormones) seem to be fighting against a familiar metabolism and my clothes are increasingly tight or larger (or both!).
So……. back to the gym…….. back on the 5:2 fast…… back on the salad……. Okay……. even I know I can’t live without a few cakes and treats, but if I can balance it right, I should be able to (literally) have my cake and eat it!
This salad is a great start…… fantastically healthy and nutritious, it is loaded with protein in the form of fish and eggs (so it fills you up for hours), all balanced with virtuous vegetables and some tasty potatoes sautéed in a little olive oil. Yum! It is a beautiful bowlful too…… so vibrant and colourful.
What makes a Nicoise Salad? Well….. If you look on the internet, there seem to be lots of variations particularly on whether they use vegetables or salad leaves, but the common denominators appear to be eggs, anchovies, tomatoes and olives…… with the small black Nicoise olive being key to the origins of the salad. Significant that may be, but lots of the recipes don’t actually specify the Nicoise olive, although they do use black olives……. I didn’t have any of those so used green and brown ones instead (also left over from the Christmas festivities)……. So I guess technically, this is not a salad Nicoise, if you want to be pedantic about it! Whatever……
The other bugbear I have to grumble about, is just how many published recipes use tinned tuna….. No No No! The tuna is central to the dish and for me must be fresh tuna steak, seared as a whole steak and then cut into chunks (or not as you choose). Not that I have anything against tinned tuna (I often eat it with a baked potato, although Miss GF is very fussy and won’t touch the stuff) but fresh tuna is far superior in taste and texture and makes this salad really special….. it is and should be the star of the show. Miss GF wouldn’t have it any other way! I may have been a bit remiss in leaving the searing of the tuna to Mr GF (it was overcooked a little), but hey, it still shone…..
The other really important factor in this dish is the balsamic vinegar. Make sure you use the best you can afford…… It will make the difference between an average salad and a fantastic meal….. really! I was lucky enough to have some rich, syrupy Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar which I was thrilled to win a while back in a give away over at My Little Italian Kitchen with the lovely and very talented Alida. You can read her interview with producer Giacomo Cinelli here. Divine doesn’t describe how amazing this vinegar is…… It has a depth of flavour and smoothness that is just incredible and far surpasses any balsamic that I have had before….. Thank you Alida.
So this is my take on the Tuna Nicoise Salad…… I share its deliciousness with :
Simply Eggcellent over at Belleau Kitchen with another of my favourite bloggers, Dom. He starts the year with an eggy invite to use the oval wonder healthily.
Cook Blog Share, this week with Kirsty at Hijacked By Twins.
The No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. The inspiration for this dish came from some fresh, leftover anchovies, but it also uses left over olives, new potatoes and green beans from Christmas. Loving the new challenge logo too Elizabeth!
Tuna Nicoise Salad (3 to 4 servings)
sea salt – freshly ground
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for frying
- Pre-boil your potatoes and cook your trimmed green beans with a sprinkle of salt added. Drain and set aside until ready to make the salad.
- Saute the beans and potatoes in a large skillet using a little olive oil, over a medium to high heat, turning occasionally until the potatoes are golden. Set aside.
- Gently pan-fry the tuna steaks whole with a little olive oil and seasoning over a medium to high heat for about 2 minutes each side (ensuring they are sealed by the heat), then remove from the pan and allow to rest for a few minutes.
- Hard-boil your eggs in their shells for about 8 minutes, then plunge in cold water to cool.
- While the eggs are boiling put your halved cherry tomatoes, olives and parsley into a large salad bowl.
- Add the cooked beans and potatoes.
- Pour the olive oil and balsamic vinegar into the bowl and give a good grind of black pepper and a little sprinkle of sea salt to the mix.
- Cut your cooked tuna into large cubes and add to the bowl.
- Toss all the ingredients in the bowl well, to mix and coat with oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Arrange the fresh anchovy fillets on the top.
- Peel the shells from the boiled eggs and cut in half (lengthways). Arrange on top of the salad.
- Give an extra fresh grind of black pepper and serve.