4 portions. Approximate cost: £9.40 (with a lot of leftover black olives),  

Skill level: Medium (beware of over cooking tuna, eggs and green beans at your peril!), 

Total cooking time: 30 minutes, 

  • Prep time:  10 minutes (salad items can be chopped whilst potatoes and green beans are steaming), 
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes, 

Equipment used:  1 saucepan, 1 steamer, 1 griddle pan,  1 frying pan, 1 small bowl with iced water, 1 large mixing bowl, 

Original recipe: BBC Good Food Salad Nicoise

 

I almost opted not to reference an original recipe here; there exist so many variations of this classic dish that it is difficult to determine what traditionally should be included.

Lettuce, green beans, cherry tomatoes, new potatoes, eggs, olives, anchovies and capers are a must for a Salad Nicoise. Then you have the option of adding tuna or salmon, red onion, cucumber, basil, croutons or sun-dried tomatoes (a la Nigella)  and that’s before you’ve even started on the dressing.

Being a traditionalist I stick to the primary ingredient list above, I do like the little twist that the BBC Good Food recipe suggests; rather than adding boiled new potatoes, these are sliced and then sautéed so that they have lovely crisp edges and soft middles. I have reduced the amount of potatoes recommended here as 600g seems a little excessive.

 

To cook:

(Original recipe in bold font)

Cook 400g new potatoes in boiling water for 15 mins until tender. When ready, do not drain the water away as you will use this for your eggs. Scoop out the potatoes and set aside and add the eggs. Cook for 6 minutes for a soft centre. 

After adding the eggs, pop a steamer on top of the saucepan and steam the green beans for a maximum of 4 minutes – they should be tender but still maintaining a decent crunch. Drain, tip into iced water, then drain again and set aside. 

Halve the cooked potatoes and heat 2 tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan. Place the potatoes cut-side down in the pan and sizzle for about 4 mins until golden and crisp. Toss the potatoes in the pan to brown on all sides. 

To cook the tuna, place a griddle pan over a high heat, then turn the heat down to medium. have a heavy cast iron Le Creuset grill pan which I adore – this chars the fish with those distinctive, smoky black lines that also add bags of flavour. A standard frying pan will of course do, but I’d highly recommend adding a skillet to your Xmas wish list. 

Oil the tuna and season generously, then sear for a maximum 4 mins, leaving it undisturbed in the pan to brown. Turn over and continue to cook for a maximum 4 mins on the other side. This will give you very rare tuna. For rare, cook for 2 mins more on each side and for well done, add another 4 mins on each side. Set the tuna aside to rest for a few mins.

Regardless of which pan you use, once you’ve added the fish do not be tempted to move it – doing so will only make it stick to the pan. Tuna can be easier to cook than other food stuffs – you can clearly see the flesh changing colour as time ticks on. If you want your tuna pink in the middle, turn the steak over before the cooked colour reaches the half way point.

To serve, whisk the remaining oil and vinegar with the lemon juice in a large mixing bowl and toss in the lettuce wedges. Ever lazy, I mix the juice of a lemon with equal measures olive oil in a jam jar, add seasoning and shake. 

Add the dressed lettuce to a plate and top with green beans, new potatoes, olives, red onion, anchovies and capers. Lastly layer on the sliced / flaked tuna and quartered eggs. Add a little more dressing on top if you fancy and voilà!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 x tuna steaks (£5)
  • 200 green beans (50p)
  • 4 x eggs (60p)
  • 400g new potatoes (50p)
  • 1/2 red onion (30p for 1 onion)
  • 1 little gem lettuce (50p)
  • a big handful of pitted black olives (£2 for a small tub, a quarter used here)
  • capers
  • anchovies

 

View other salad recipes

View recipes to use up the leftover olives