Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise
Staff Writer
Salad
Jeff Kauck

Salad

The modern Salade Niçoise can be many things. I like mine with grilled fresh tuna, green beans and steamed potatoes, multicolored heirloom cherry tomatoes, a few nicely dressed greens, and a soft touch of anchovy. 

This composed salad is perfect to serve when entertaining guests at lunch. Serve family-style along with a loaf of fresh crusty bread and sweet butter.

Ingredients

For the yogurt and lemon dressing:

  • ½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon-zest salt (made with equal parts grated lemon zest and fine sea salt, blended in a spice grinder)

For the salad:

  • 9 quarts water
  • ¼ cup coarse sea salt
  • 1 pound slim haricot verts (green beans), trimmed at both ends
  • 1 pound yellow- fleshed potatoes (such as Yukon Gold)
  • Four 6-ounce, ¾-inch-thick tuna steaks
  • Fine sea salt
  • Coarse, freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups firmly packed buttercrunch, Bibb, or Boston lettuce
  • 8 ripe heirloom cherry tomatoes, preferably green, yellow, and red, halved
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered lengthwise
  • 8 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
  • ¼ cup chives

Directions

For the yogurt and lemon dressing:

In a small jar with a lid, combine he yogurt, lemon juice, and salt. Cover with the lid and shake to blend. Taste for seasoning. The dressing can be used immediately.

For the salad:

Prepare a large bowl of ice water.

Fill the pasta pot with 8 quarts of water and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the salt and beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. (Cooking time will vary according to the size and tenderness of the beans.) Immediately remove the colander from the water, allowing the water to drain from the beans. Plunge the beans into the ice water so they cool down as quickly as possible. (The beans will cool in 1-2 minutes. If you leave them longer, they will become soggy and begin to lose flavor.) Drain the beans and wrap them in a thick towel to dry. (Store the beans in the towel in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.)

Prepare a wood or charcoal fire. Set the grill rack about 5 inches from the heat. The fire is ready when the coals glow red and are covered with ash.

Scrub the potatoes but do not peel them. Bring 1 quart of water to a simmer in the bottom of a steamer. Place the potatoes on the steaming rack. Place the rack over the simmering water, cover, and steam just until the potatoes are fully cooked, about 25 minutes. While still warm, place the potatoes in a small bowl and toss with just enough dressing to lightly and evenly coat them.

Season the tuna lightly with salt and pepper. Place the tuna at the 10 o’clock position on the hot grill rack. After 1 minute, rotate the tuna a quarter-turn to the right, to 2 o’clock. 1 minute later, flip the tuna over to the uncooked side, grill marks up, pointing to 10 o’clock. Grill for 1 minute and rotate to 2 o’clock again, cooking until the tuna is done to your liking. Transfer the tuna to a platter, season again with salt and pepper, and cover loosely with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Place the lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with just enough dressing to lightly and evenly coat the lettuce. Place the tomatoes in another bowl and toss with just enough dressing to lightly and evenly coat them. Place the green beans in another bowl and toss with just enough dressing to lightly and evenly coat them.

Set a tuna steak at the edge of a large dinner plate. Arrange the lettuce, green beans, potatoes, eggs, and tomatoes alongside. Arrange the anchovies in a crisscross pattern on top and sprinkle with the chives. Serve.

Salad Shopping Tip

Buy green leafy vegetables like arugula, watercress, and collards – they are good sources of vitamins A, C, and K and minerals like iron and calcium.

Salad Cooking Tip

Brighten up sandwiches or salads with small, tender leaves like spinach and add larger, tougher leaves like kale to soups and stews.

Salad Wine Pairing

Salads with vinegar-based dressings don't go well with wine. Albariño, torrontés, or riesling with seafood or poultry salads in mayonnaise- or cream-based dressings; pinot gris/grigio, sauvignon blanc, sémillion, or grüner veltliner with salads with lemon juice-based dressings.