Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Salade Nicoise

Recently I ordered this lunch dish at Cafe Luluc in Carroll Gardens. The following recipe is roughly, but not exactly, based on what appeared on my plate. The restaurant served canned tuna and canned olives; I would prefer it as indicated below. Also, it is important to use fresh, not frozen tuna, as frozen fish does not have the same buttery consistency as fresh. This recipe serves four.

1 lb fresh ahi tuna, sushi grade, about 3/4 inch thick
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
2/3 head Romaine lettuce, chopped into small bite-size pieces
4 hard boiled eggs, thinly sliced
1 cup brine-cured black olives
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2/3 English cucumber, sliced into thin coins
large handful string beans, trimmed and steamed tender-crisp
1 shallot, finely chopped
12 - 16 anchovy fillets, oil cured

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup light olive oil
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, pushed thru press
salt and pepper to taste

For tuna, pour a small amount of olive oil into a saute pan and bring heat to high. Sear tuna on each side about a minute to a minute and a half, enough so that the outside is browned or even blackened, but the center is still pink and raw. Season with a tiny bit of salt and pepper.

Whisk together all dressing ingredients and reserve 4 tbps dressing. Toss remaining dressing with lettuce only. Take into account that your guests will be mixing in other salad components on their own, so it's ok to use slightly more dressing than you would use if it were just the lettuce.

Arrange a mound of lettuce at top center of plate. Place seared tuna directly on top of the lettuce and drizzle with a tablespoon of dressing. Create rows of the remaining salad ingredients, except for anchovies, in a radiant design, starting at the lettuce and extending to the edges of the plate.

Garnish tuna with 3 or 4 anchovy fillets.

Allow guests to combine lettuce and veggies to their liking on the plate.

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