It's that time of year when what you want for dinner is a big salad. The farmers market is bursting with lovely yellow and green beans, tender lettuces, sweet tomatoes, and earthy potatoes. Put that all together and a big salad is exactly what you get.
Tuna Salad Niçoise*
12 ounces fingerling potatoes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme
½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 7.8-ounce jar canned oil-packed tuna
Freshly ground black pepper
2 hard-cooked eggs
4 ounces haricot vert, trimmed and blanched
6 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 ounces mesclun greens
¼ cup Niçoise or Kalamata olives
Place the potatoes in a medium pot and add enough water to cover by several inches. Add several large pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a plate. Let rest for about 15 minutes, or until just cool enough to handle.
Whisk together the red wine vinegar, shallot, mustard, thyme, rosemary, and parsley in a medium bowl. Continue whisking while adding the oil in a thin stream. Drain the tuna and whisk the oil from the tuna into the vinaigrette. Season the vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper. Cut the potatoes into quarters when they are cool enough to handle and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat in a medium bowl.
Cut the eggs into sixths and flake the tuna. In separate bowls, toss the haricot vert, tomatoes, and greens with enough vinaigrette to coat.
Mound the greens on a platter. Arrange the potatoes, haricot vert, tomatoes, eggs, olives, and tuna decoratively atop the greens. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve immediately.
Serves 2 as a main course. This composed salad hails from sunny Nice in the South of France. The flavor depends largely on the quality of the tuna, so splurge on the best you can afford. Personally, I like Ortiz Bonito del Norte. Any yellow-fleshed potatoes may be used. Haricot vert, which are French green beans, are very slender and more tender than other varieties. They are often available at gourmet grocers and farmers markets. If you cannot find them, use the smallest green beans you can find. You can also use a combination of green and yellow wax beans.
*For a related Seared Tuna Salad Niçoise recipe and everything you ever wanted to know about searing, plus dozens of fabulous searing recipes, look for my book Seared to Perfection in stores now.