I may be a professional chef and therefore have endless ingredients at my fingertips, but there are some days I just don’t have the time to put into a carefully crafted lunch. Shortage of prep time doesn’t mean I want to skimp on flavor, however. And one of my favorite lunches that satisfies my lunchtime cravings is the simple provençal dish: salade niçoise. My version of the classic salad uses freshly seared tuna, crunchy veggies, and a bright tarragon vinaigrette – all I need to keep my workday going strong.
Seared Tuna Niçoise Salad
Yields 4 portions
- 1 lb tuna, grade #1 also known as sashimi grade (Since this recipe uses seared, basically raw, tuna make sure you get the best quality tuna possible. The fish guy at your local grocery store will help you find the right tuna.)
- 1 tsp. herbes de provence (optional)
- 1 small bunch of asparagus (Traditional niçoise uses green beans but I was craving asparagus instead. Feel free to use either.)
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
- 1 small sweet potato, cut into ¼ inch cubes
- 4 cups of your favorite lettuce (spinach, arugula, baby kale, etc., or lola rosa like I used)
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced (soak in ice water to eliminate that harsh, raw onion taste before adding to salad)
- ¼ english cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. honey
- ½ small shallot
- 1 sprig of tarragon
- salt and pepper
Note: Traditional salade niçoise is served with anchovies and hard-boiled eggs. If you have those in your fridge, feel free to add them to your salad.
For the tuna, start by seasoning the outside of the tuna loin with salt and pepper (and herbes de provence, if using). Using a non-stick sauté pan over high heat, add 2 tbsp. olive oil and sear the tuna for 30-45 seconds on each side (just long enough to brown slightly). Remove the seared tuna from the pan and cool until ready to serve.
For the vinaigrette, blend ¾ cup olive oil, dijon mustard, lemon juice, honey, shallot, tarragon, and a pinch of salt and pepper until creamy. Set aside until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss the diced sweet potatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper, and roast on a sheet pan for 10-15 minutes. Cool and set aside. Toss the asparagus with 2 tbsp olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper, and roast on a sheet pan for 10-15 minutes. Cool and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the sweet potatoes, onions, asparagus, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and a couple tablespoons of vinaigrette. Season with a little salt and pepper if needed. Slice the seared tuna into ½ inch pieces and place on top of the salad.