August can be a tricky month—one minute we are frolicking in the sea and sand, and the next we are shopping for school supplies and getting back into a hectic daily routine. So, I thought I’d share this recipe for The Simplest Salade Nicoise because not only is simple what many of us need right now, but also because it allows us to use some of the late summer fresh vegetables and tuna in a jar or in a can (see note below about this!). It’s perfect for this time of year: elegant without being fussy, so it would be nice for Sunday supper, and, light and quick enough for a weeknight after a busy day.
There are so many versions of Salad Nicoise, but this one by Gunter Seeger (a very interesting, and somewhat controversial chef, whose restaurant in Manhattan looks intriguing, if not a bit intimidating) is my favorite. Seeger’s instructions are uncomplicated (you use one pot of boiling water), and we thoroughly enjoyed the salad.
The Simplest Salade Nicoise
~from Gunter Seeger
8 new potatoes
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for seasoning
1 pound French green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ cup pitted Nicoise olives
8 ounces of olive-oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked into large pieces
Juice of ½ lemon
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes and boil until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a large bowl and season with a generous pinch of salt.
- Once potatoes are cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot, keeping water on the boil. Pat potatoes dry, then cut the into bite-sized pieces and season with salt. Stir oil into tomatoes. Gently fold in potatoes to coat in tomato juices.
- Add beans to boiling water and blanch until bright green and crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer beans to a colander, keeping water on the boil. Rinse beans under cold water, then toss dry. Fold beans and olives into potato-tomato mixture.
- Lower eggs into boiling water and boil until yolks are just fudgy at center, 8 minutes. Remove eggs and run under cold water to halt cooking. Peel eggs.
- Gently toss vegetables with lemon juice to taste. Add more oil or salt, as needed.
- To serve, top vegetables with tuna. Halve eggs and sprinkle with salt. Nestle eggs into salad. Drizzle with oil and serve.
(Note: Seeger insists on using the tuna packed in olive oil in a jar, not canned tuna. However, the iconic food writer M.F.K. Fisher is okay with tuna in a can. She writes: “In spite of some hidebound gastronomic judges who believe that any fish from a tin is fit only for ally cats, modern canned tuna and salmon and shrimps are a sensible addition to your menus…”. She also says that, “There are countless economical ways to prepare canned fish, and most of them take so little time that they are especially sensible for you if you work in a factory or an office.” Sensible being the key word here I think!).
Enjoy your Sunday!