Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Salad Nicoise with Seared Tuna

It's a hot one here in Chicagoland! I didn't want to make my poor husband sweat by the grill tonight so I went with a pan-seared tuna to top of this Nicoise salad. As you can see in the photo, I overcooked it a little for my liking; I prefer it more red in the center. Modify the cooking time to your liking. A traditional Nicoise salad uses red new potatoes and haricot verts (French green beans)--paleo no-no's. I substituted thin asparagus and a variety of other vegetables in this version.

Adapted from foodnetwork.com.

Serves 4.

1 - 1 1/2 lb fresh sushi-quality ahi tuna

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and torn
1 can quartered artichokes, drained
1 lb thin asparagus spears, ends trimmed
1 cup Nicoise or oil-cured olives
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (I used a combination of tomatoes I had on hand.)
1 small bunch radishes, ends trimmed, halved, and sliced thin
1/2 sweet red pepper, peeled, cored, thinly sliced and cut into 1-2 inch lengths
8 anchovy  fillets
8 caper berries
small bunch fresh chives, snipped in half
4 large eggs, hard boiled, peeled, and halved lengthwise
2 Tbsp Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

To Blanch Asparagus

  1. Cut asparagus spears into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Keep tips separate from stalks.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan about 1/2 full of water. Bring water to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Add asparagus stem pieces and boil for 1 minute, add asparagus tips and boil for an additional 1 minute or until crisp-tender and bright green.
  3. Pour asparagus into a colander and rinse under very cold water to stop them from cooking. 
  4. Refrigerate or set aside.
To Make Vinaigrette
  1. Combine parsley, tarragon, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. 
  2. Add mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice and pulse to combine. 
  3. With processor running, slowly add olive oil until dressing emulsifies. 
  4. Turn off processor and season with salt and pepper.
To Sear Tuna
  1. Warm a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. 
  2. Season the tuna with salt and pepper. Spoon the vinaigrette on the tuna and rub a little bit into each side. (Be sure not to contaminate the vinaigrette with the tuna.)
  3. Place 1 Tbsp olive oil in hot pan. Working in batches, if necessary, lay the tuna steaks in the pan and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they reach your desired degree of doneness.
  4. Transfer tuna to a cutting board and slice.

To Assemble Salad
  1. Divide Romaine evenly among 4 large, shallow bowls or plates.
  2. Place artichokes, asparagus, olives, radishes, red peppers, tomatoes, anchovies, capers, and chives in a large mixing bowl. Gently toss to coat.
  3. Briefly whisk the vinaigrette to recombine. Add just enough of the vinaigrette to moisten, but not drench, the vegetables. Gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place 1/4 of the tossed salad on top of the Romaine leaves. Carefully fan tuna slices out on top. Arrange 2 halves of egg on the side. (A Nicoise salad is all about presentation.) Drizzle lightly with remaining vinaigrette and serve. Repeat for remaining salads and serve.

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