Monday, March 14, 2011

Salad Nicoise

I've had salad nicoise in many restaurants as it's my favourite salad, however I've never had a better one than I did tonight. Maybe it's because I chose the freshest ingredients and cooked everything to my liking, maybe I removed and substitute some ingredients with others- whatever it may be, I made the best salad of my life this evening. I want it again tomorrow!

I love how simple yet complex this salad is. There's a bit of everything- starchy potatoes, protein from your fish, eggs and beans, vitamins, minerals and fibre from your greens good fat from the olive oil and yolks.. It is a perfectly balanced meal. It's also satisfying as it eats as a meal!

I did not go the conventional route tonight. Instead of simply boiling my potatoes I took it further and broiled them on high until they crisped. I also broiled baby tomatoes to sweeten them and add depth as opposed to serving them raw. Instead of having two salty components (olives + sardines) I tossed the sardines entirely. A new and very welcome addition is the cannellini beans. Every single bite was a symphony of sweets and salty, soft and crunchy...heaven!

1 pound sushi quality tuna
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound haircot vertes
1 pint baby tomatoes
2 potatoes
1 can cannellini beans
3 eggs
2 cups mixed salad
2-3 tablespoon black olives
1 teaspoon finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the potatoes 1/2 inch thick and boil in salted water (you can boil your egg with the potato to save time). When you can easily pierce the potato with a fork, remove them and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and broil on high for about 5 minutes or until they've browned. Reserve. Keep cooking the egg until it's hardboiled (about 15 min). Peel the egg and reserve.

Place tomatoes on a baking tray lined with tinfoil and broil on high for 5-10 minutes or until they've browned and the skin crackles. Reserve.

Blanch the haricot vertes in boiling salted water and cook for three minutes or until just tender. Drain and reserve.

Drain and wash cannellini beans. Mix in a bowl with red onions. Mix well and reserve.

whisk 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon canola oil, dijon and powdered mustard in a bowl. Add a good pinch of salt and some pepper. Set aside.

On a clean cutting board, mix the 1 tablespoon of pepper and salt. Pat the tuna down on all sides so it's coated with the pepper (this may seem like a lot but it's will provide the most delicious crust!).

Heat a pan (preferably NOT a nonstick as they don't sear well) and add enough canola oil to ensure the pan is coated (about 1 teaspoon). Gently place the fish down. Do not touch it for 1 minute. Flip it on it's other side and cook for another minute. Now place it on its sides so the sides get seared (briefly, about 5 seconds. Turn the heat off and cover the pan for one minute. Remove the tuna and slice thinly on a bias, it should be nice and rare in the centre.

In a large bowl separately toss the cannellini beans, tomatoes, haricot vertes and salad so they are well coated. Drizzle dressing on the potatoes, slice the eggs on a bias and assemble however you like. It's always good to serve it with some dressing on the side so people can add more if they like! 

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