We’ve all had a Niçoise salad at some point in our lives, right? This simplified version of the classic replaces the hard-boiled egg with a soft-cooked one, which means the yolk can mix easily—and deliciously—with the other ingredients. With practically no cooking at all (except the soft-boiled eggs), this quick meal leaves you all kinds of time leftover to devote to other needs. (Click here for a more involved version.)
By all means, make sure to buy the real good Italian tuna packed in oil and treat yourself to the royalty of gourmet jarred tuna. Yes, it’s an unabashed luxury and a lot more expensive than the canned, but makes a world of difference in taste and texture. Once you have a bite of a smooth, soft tuna strip, hand filleted from a small section of the tuna’s underbelly, you’ll replace your classic “mmm” with a resounding “Oooh lá lá!”
The first time I tried gourmet jarred tuna—which was only a few short years ago—Russ persuaded me to take the plunge, although I was skeptical that the price would be worth it. But after one bite, I quickly changed my mind. Save the canned tuna for quick meals and sandwiches.
TASTE TEST: Fine Cooking was curious about which supermarket tuna tastes best, so they collected all the canned and jarred tuna they could find in local supermarkets and tried them side by side. Without knowing which came from a can or a jar, they overwhelmingly preferred the jarred tuna samples (specifically the Sclafani and Tonnino). The jarred tuna contained bigger pieces, was richer tasting, and had better texture.
This salad is touted as serving four. In MHO that would make for some pretty small rations. The only tweaks I made was soft boiling 3 eggs instead of four (Russ wanted two for himself), and because I inadvertently used up all of our shallots the previous night, I minced a scallion instead—after all they’re both from the allium family. As you can see from the photos, our portions aren’t overly large!
Instead of wasting the good olive oil when you drain the tuna, capture it in a small bowl and use the requisite amount when making the dressing, this way you won’t be wasting anything and will get an added bonus of tuna flavor. BTW, any leftover dressing will keep for a week in the fridge, and we did have some extra.
Nicoise-Style Salad with Soft Cooked Eggs
- 4 large eggs
- 1-1/2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs. minced shallot
- 1 Tbs. heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. capers, drained
- 4 oz. spring mix lettuces (4 lightly packed cups)
- 2, 5-oz. jars or cans light tuna packed in olive oil, preferably Italian, drained and flaked
- 2/3 cup jarred roasted red pepper strips, rinsed
- 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
- Bring a 2-quart saucepan of water to a boil. Lower the eggs into the water, reduce the heat so the water is gently boiling, and then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water and let cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, shallot, cream, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil in a slow stream until emulsified. Stir in the capers.
- Toss the lettuce with just enough dressing to coat, and then divide it between the (in our case two) dinner plates. Arrange the tuna, roasted red pepper, and olives on top of the greens.
- Carefully peel the eggs, place one on each salad, and gently cut in half.
- Rewhisk the remaining dressing, drizzle a little over the salad, and serve.
By Debbie Schenkel from Fine Cooking