Salad Nicoise was created in the French city Nice and is traditionally made of tuna, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, Nicoise olives, anchovies, and olive oil. It's a great salad to make when you have a lot of leftovers because there are no boundaries for the produce that you can use in the recipe.
Cooked asparagus, raw or roasted bell peppers, cooked or raw artichokes, shaved or whole radishes are all great substitutes for the vegetables we will be using in our own version. You can also forgo the anchovies or olives if you don't like the taste. You don't have to use Nicoise olives, any pitted olive will work. All of the herbs in the vinaigrette are optional, if you prefer one herb over another you can substitute in its place. You can use hard-boiled eggs in place of medium-boiled eggs. Feel free to get creative!
Serves 4-6 people
To prepare the vinaigrette, peel and chop the shallot and garlic clove and place into a 1/2 quart container with a tight fitting lid. Rinse and dry the anchovies on a paper towel. Chop the anchovies as finely as possible and using the flat side of your knife, smash the anchovies into a paste. Add the anchovies to 1/2 quart container. Rinse the capers and add to the 1/2 quart container. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard to the container. Place the lid on top, making sure it is secure and shake the container vigorously for 10 seconds. Pick and chop the parsley and tarragon and hold in a separate container. You will add the herbs to the vinaigrette at the last second to avoid them turning brown.
Fill a 4 quart pot with water, place a lid on top and turn the heat on high. Quickly rinse the potatoes under warm water and place into another 4 quart pot, adding enough water to just cover the potatoes. Season both pots of water heavily with kosher salt (the water should be as salty as the ocean). Turn the pot of potatoes on high and bring to a boil, once the pot boils turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook the potatoes for 10-20 minutes depending on the size. After the potatoes have cooked for 10 minutes check them every 2 minutes by piercing the larger potatoes with a small knife, the potatoes should be tender and the knife should go in and out of them with ease. While you are waiting for the lidded pot and the potatoes to boil, trim both ends of the green beans and cut in half. Prepare an ice bath, 1/2 ice and 1/2 water in a medium sized bowl or pot. The ice bath should be large enough to cool the green beans quickly, without the ice melting. Once the lidded pot boils, add the green beans in two batches. Cook the beans for 2-3 minutes or until bright green and tender, they should still have a slight crunch when you bite into them. Drain the beans and hold them at room temperature. Once the potatoes are cooked through drain the water and let the potatoes cool at room temperature in the pot.
Clean one of the 4 quart pots and fill with roughly 6 inches of water. Place the pot on the stove and turn the heat on high, once the water is boiling, use a slotted spoon to gently add the eggs. Set a timer for 8 minutes, once the water boils again, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. While waiting for the eggs to cook prepare another ice bath and cut the potatoes and tomatoes in half lengthwise, placing them in a bowl and holding at room temperature. When the timer goes off, carefully drain the eggs and use the spoon to place them in the ice bath. Gently rinse the butter lettuce under cold water, shake the excess water off the lettuce and drain on paper towels. Once the eggs are chilled, peel them and run them under cold water to remove any excess shells. Cut the eggs into quarters.
Heat a large nonstick pan over high heat. Drain the tuna fillets and pat dry with a towel. Pour 3 Tablespoons of olive oil onto a large plate and coat the tuna fillets in oil. Season both sides of the tuna with kosher salt. Add the tuna fillets to the hot pan and sear on each side for 1 1/2 minutes. Take the tuna out of the pan and slice against the grain. The tuna slices should be about 1/2 inch thick and the inside of the tuna should be red or pink throughout. Add the chopped herbs to the vinaigrette and shake the container for 10 more seconds to incorporate all of the ingredients and marry the flavors.
Now it's time to start assembling the salad. Place the butter lettuce into a large bowl and using a spoon drizzle just enough vinaigrette to coat the greens. Toss the greens in the vinaigrette and arrange them in the bottom of a wide serving bowl or platter. Put the green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes into the bowl and generously coat with the vinaigrette, reserving 3 Tablespoons. Arrange the green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes on top of the butter lettuce (I like to take the more traditional route and arrange all of the vegetables separately on top of the greens). Place the eggs around the sides of the platter. Fan the Tuna over top of the vegetables. Drizzle the tuna and eggs with the remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle the olives and chives on top of the platter and serve with tongs and a large spoon.