I love me a good Nicoise salad, especially when the temperature is supposed to soar over the 100 degree mark on the thermometer. So I decided to make it this week for dinner, including poaching the tuna in olive oil for the tuna confit.
So what makes a good Nicoise you ask?
Starting in the far upper left and continuing around snakelike: bibb lettuce, chopped egg whites, chopped egg yolks, Nicoise olives (in my case I used Kalamata because I can’t find Nicoise in Durham at the moment, and the Kalamata worked just fine), vinaigrette (red or white wine works), haricots vert (yes, I can find haricots vert but not nicoise olives – go figure), large diced Yukon potatoes, grape tomatoes, julienned red onion, anchovies, capers and tuna.
For the tuna I used a fairly basic recipe. Mix together 1 tbsp kosher salt, 1.5 tsp sugar, .5 tsp red chili flakes and 1 tsp black pepper then rub the tuna all over (about 2 pounds of tuna – I used a pound and a half cut into 4 pieces). Cover and put in the fridge for four hours.
At the end of four hours put the tuna in a pan large enough to hold it in one layer, along with the zest of 1 orange, 1 lemon, a few sprigs of thyme, about a teaspoon of whole coriander seed and about half a teaspoon of whole black peppercorn.
I cooked mine for about 50 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure that your oil isn’t boiling and that it’s still covering the tuna completely. If not, pour more oil in and turn the heat down by 10-15 degrees. To make sure it’s done just test with a fork that the tuna is flaking and cooked all the way through:
To compose the salad, I like to toss all the veggies with the vinaigrette, and I like to place the haricots underneath the bibb. Other than that it’s not a super composed salad, even though I’ve certainly made it that way depending on where I’ve worked. Obviously the tuna should sit on top and if you opt for the anchovies, I like to put those on top of the tuna.
And it should go without saying that as you toss anything with the vinaigrette you should be seasoning it.