Now is a great time of year to get mouth-watering tomatoes and local fresh basil, and Pasta Niçoise incorporates both. In this riff on the classic composed salad from the south of France, spaghetti is tossed with seared tuna, green beans, olives, and, of course, ripe tomatoes. Simple. Quick. Tasty!
Obviously with Russ’s wheat intolerance, we use gluten free pasta whenever possible. Our brand of choice is Barilla because it stays al dente and basically tastes as good as the regular. We only wish they’d make more shapes 😦
When selecting our olives, the supermarket was not carrying the Niçoise type, fresh or jarred, so we opted for the oil-cured black olives which tend to be saltier, but that works for me!
The instructions say to sear the tuna for only 30 seconds per side, which leaves the tuna very rare. I went ahead and seared it for 60 seconds per side, let it sit under foil for 5 minutes and sliced into it. Still too rare for our intentions, I placed the slices back into the hot skillet for another 20 seconds per side, with medium-rare results. Perfect!
And to our mutual delight, we agreed it might have been actually a tad better as leftovers. I guess we’ll just have to make it again to find out…
The tuna is seasoned, the tomatoes chopped, the beans prepped, and the olives and capers measured.
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 12 oz. dried spaghetti
- 6 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
- 1-1/2 lb. large tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup Niçoise olives, pitted and halved
- 3 Tbs. capers in vinegar (don’t drain)
- 3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh basil, plus small leaves for garnish
- 1 lb. fresh tuna steak (1-1/2 inches thick), cut into 1-1/2-inch-wide strips
In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil with the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.
After searing 60 seconds per side and resting under foil for 5 minutes, we found the tuna still too rare.
- In a large bowl, whisk 2 Tbs. of the olive oil with the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions for al dente, adding the green beans to the water when 2 minutes remain.
- Drain the spaghetti and beans and toss with the vinaigrette. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, and basil, and toss. Season to taste with more pepper.
- Season the tuna on all sides with salt and pepper. In a large heavy-duty skillet, heat the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil over high heat until shimmering hot. Sear the tuna on all sides, about 30seconds per side. Transfer to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
- Divide the pasta and vegetables among four wide, shallow bowls, top with the tuna, and garnish with the basil leaves.
By Ronne Day of Fine Cooking