When in Nice

The winding, narrow streets of Nice are laden with small places to eat with black chalk board signs every few feet. One dish that was ubiquitous was the Nicoise Tuna Salad. The simple, peasant dish most likely originated from the housewives of Nice. Julia Child made this salad a widespread classic and controversially, although I think beneficially, added lettuce and potatoes. The dish is full of flavor from the tuna itself, as well as a variety of herbs found in the region that really add to the integrity of the vegetables. Today, Americans tend to enjoy this salad with seared Ahi tuna. While I prefer it with Ahi, it can also be delightful with regular canned light tuna, particularly when canned in olive oil. All of the vegetables in this recipe can be found during the winter and the always refreshing and flavorful dish can be a nice respite from the heavy dishes of winter.

1/2 pound red potatoes
1/4 pound haricots verts
2 Ahi Tuna steaks or 1 can of solid white albacore tuna
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 rosemary sprgs
1 large head of Bibb lettuce
2 teaspoons chopped parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon leaves
1/2 pound tomatoes
1/3 cup Nicoise olives halved and seeded
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
Bring 2 medium pots of salted water to boil. Add potatoes to 1 pot and blanch until tender (5-6 minutes). Drain in a collander and pat try, set aside. Add green beans to other pot and blanch until tender (4-5 minutes). Drain in colander and pat dry.
If using Ahi tuna, cut into 4 equal portions, season with kosher salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the rosemary sprigs and tuna, sear over high heat about 30 seconds per side. Remove from pan and dice tuna into 1 inch pieces.
If using canned, simply shop into smaller pieces and set aside.
Tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces and combine with parsley and tarragon, toss with dressing to coat, salt and pepper as needed. Toss the potatoes and green beans in 1/4 cup of dressing. Add vegetables, eggs and tuna and serve.
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
In a medium bowl mash, salt, pepper and garlic. Add lemon juice and mustard, whisk well. Add oil in a steady stream while whisking. Add shallots, capers and Worcestershire, whisk. Adjust seasoning to taste. Make before salad and refrigerate until ready to use.

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