SALAD NIÇOISE

IT'S SEPTEMBER 29 AND TOMORROW IT'S GOING TO BE 100º.  FALL IS SUMMER IN LOS ANGELES, SO I LOOK FOR HOT WEATHER DISHES SUCH AS COLD SOUPS, SALADS, THINGS THAT CAN BE PREPARED WITH A MINIMUM OF COOKING.  SALAD NIÇOISE IS AMONG MY FAVORITES.  THERE ARE PLENTY OF RIFFS ON THIS PROVENÇAL FAVORITE BUT A FEW CONSTANTS REMAIN -- STRING BEANS, POTATOES, HARD-BOILED EGG, AND FRESH TUNA.  THERE ARE A LOT OF COMPONENTS TO A SALAD NIÇOISE, BUT ALMOST EVERYTHING BUT THE TUNA CAN BE PREPARED IN ADVANCE.  TO SIMPLIFY COOKING I USE ONE LARGE POT OF WATER TO COOK THE EGGS, THEN THE STRING BEANS AND, FINALLY, THE POTATOES.  WHEN YOU ADD THE WARM POTATOES TO THE DRESSING IT NOT ONLY COOLS THEM DOWN BUT ALLOWS THEM TO ABSORB THE DRESSING.  BY FREEZING THE TUNA FOR 30 MINUTES BEFORE COOKING, IT STAYS RARE IN THE CENTER, AS IT SHOULD BE.  ALL YOU NEED NOW IS A COLD GLASS OF MUSCADET.  

 4 EGGS
 1 lb STRING BEANS
 1 lb FINGERLING POTATOES
 2 RIPE TOMATOES PLUS A DOZEN CHERRY TOMATOES
 1 ½ lbs FRESH TUNA 1 1/2 INCHES THICK
 1 LARGE SHALLOT
 ½ LEMON
 WHITE WINE VINEGAR
 GRAINY MUSTARD
 FRESH HERBS SUCH AS TARRAGON, DILL, CHIVES, CILANTRO, OR BASIL

1

BRING A LARGE POT OF WATER TO A BOIL. SALT GENEROUSLY.

TRIM STEM ENDS FROM THE STRING BEANS.

BOIL THE EGGS FOR 9 MINUTES. REMOVE AND COOL IN A SINK FULL OF COLD WATER. RESERVE.

BOIL THE STRING BEANS FOR ABOUT 4 MINUTES, UNTIL TENDER BUT CRUNCHY. REMOVE AND PLACE IN THE SINK. WHEN COOL, ARRANGE ON A DISH TOWEL. WRAP GENTLY.

CUT THE POTATOES 1/2 THICK. BOIL FOR 6 TO 8 MINUTES UNTIL TENDER.

MEANWHILE, PEEL AND CHOP THE SHALLOT. PUT IN A LARGE BOWL. SEASON WITH SALT AND PEPPER. ADD THE JUICE OF 1/2 LEMON AND 3 TBSPS OF VINEGAR. WHISK IN 2 TBSPS OF GRAINY MUSTARD. WHISK IN ABOUT 1/2 CUP OF OLIVE OIL.

AS SOON AS THE POTATOES ARE DONE, DRAIN AND ADD TO THE BOWL. FOLD INTO THE DRESSING.

CORE AND CUT TOMATOES INTO WEDGES. SLICE THE CHERRY TOMATOES LENGTHWISE IN HALF.

WASH AND DRY THE LETTUCES IF NECESSARY. ARRANGE ON A SERVING PLATTER.

30 MINUTES BEFORE COOKING, PLACE THE TUNA IN THE FREEZER.

HEAT A CAST IRON PAN ON TOP OF THE STOVE FOR AT LEAST 5 MINUTES.

DRY THE TUNA WITH PAPER TOWELS AND SEASON WITH SALT AND A GENEROUS GRINDING OF PEPPER.

PLACE IN THE HOT SKILLET. (YOU WON'T NEED OIL, SINCE THE TUNA IS AN OILY FISH.) COOK ABOUT 4 MINUTES A SIDE, PRESSING DOWN ON THE TUNA STEAK FROM TIME TO TIME. YOU CAN SEE HOW MUCH THE TUNA HAS COOKED. IT SHOULD BE RARE IN THE CENTER LIKE A STEAK.

REMOVE FROM THE PAN AND ALLOW TO REST WHILE YOU ASSEMBLE THE SALAD.

ADD THE STRING BEANS, TOMATOES AND FRESHLY-CHOPPED HERBS TO THE BOWL. TOSS GENTLY. ARRANGE ON A SERVING PLATTER ON TOP OF THE LETTUCES.

PEEL THE EGGS AND SLICE IN 1/2-INCH PIECES.

SLICE THE TUNA AND ARRANGE ON TOP OF THE STRING BEANS, TOMATOES AND POTATOES. DISTRIBUTE THE EGG SLICES.

SCATTER WITH SOME FRESH HERBS AND SERVES.

SERVES 4-6

Ingredients

 4 EGGS
 1 lb STRING BEANS
 1 lb FINGERLING POTATOES
 2 RIPE TOMATOES PLUS A DOZEN CHERRY TOMATOES
 1 ½ lbs FRESH TUNA 1 1/2 INCHES THICK
 1 LARGE SHALLOT
 ½ LEMON
 WHITE WINE VINEGAR
 GRAINY MUSTARD
 FRESH HERBS SUCH AS TARRAGON, DILL, CHIVES, CILANTRO, OR BASIL

Directions

1

BRING A LARGE POT OF WATER TO A BOIL. SALT GENEROUSLY.

TRIM STEM ENDS FROM THE STRING BEANS.

BOIL THE EGGS FOR 9 MINUTES. REMOVE AND COOL IN A SINK FULL OF COLD WATER. RESERVE.

BOIL THE STRING BEANS FOR ABOUT 4 MINUTES, UNTIL TENDER BUT CRUNCHY. REMOVE AND PLACE IN THE SINK. WHEN COOL, ARRANGE ON A DISH TOWEL. WRAP GENTLY.

CUT THE POTATOES 1/2 THICK. BOIL FOR 6 TO 8 MINUTES UNTIL TENDER.

MEANWHILE, PEEL AND CHOP THE SHALLOT. PUT IN A LARGE BOWL. SEASON WITH SALT AND PEPPER. ADD THE JUICE OF 1/2 LEMON AND 3 TBSPS OF VINEGAR. WHISK IN 2 TBSPS OF GRAINY MUSTARD. WHISK IN ABOUT 1/2 CUP OF OLIVE OIL.

AS SOON AS THE POTATOES ARE DONE, DRAIN AND ADD TO THE BOWL. FOLD INTO THE DRESSING.

CORE AND CUT TOMATOES INTO WEDGES. SLICE THE CHERRY TOMATOES LENGTHWISE IN HALF.

WASH AND DRY THE LETTUCES IF NECESSARY. ARRANGE ON A SERVING PLATTER.

30 MINUTES BEFORE COOKING, PLACE THE TUNA IN THE FREEZER.

HEAT A CAST IRON PAN ON TOP OF THE STOVE FOR AT LEAST 5 MINUTES.

DRY THE TUNA WITH PAPER TOWELS AND SEASON WITH SALT AND A GENEROUS GRINDING OF PEPPER.

PLACE IN THE HOT SKILLET. (YOU WON'T NEED OIL, SINCE THE TUNA IS AN OILY FISH.) COOK ABOUT 4 MINUTES A SIDE, PRESSING DOWN ON THE TUNA STEAK FROM TIME TO TIME. YOU CAN SEE HOW MUCH THE TUNA HAS COOKED. IT SHOULD BE RARE IN THE CENTER LIKE A STEAK.

REMOVE FROM THE PAN AND ALLOW TO REST WHILE YOU ASSEMBLE THE SALAD.

ADD THE STRING BEANS, TOMATOES AND FRESHLY-CHOPPED HERBS TO THE BOWL. TOSS GENTLY. ARRANGE ON A SERVING PLATTER ON TOP OF THE LETTUCES.

PEEL THE EGGS AND SLICE IN 1/2-INCH PIECES.

SLICE THE TUNA AND ARRANGE ON TOP OF THE STRING BEANS, TOMATOES AND POTATOES. DISTRIBUTE THE EGG SLICES.

SCATTER WITH SOME FRESH HERBS AND SERVES.

SERVES 4-6

SALAD NIÇOISE
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