Tuna Salade Nicoise

Here is another idea for a dish you can make with common items in your CSA this time of year. New potatoes, green beans, and cucumbers are the tri fecta that form the basis of this composed salad, but corn, tomatoes, or sauteed summer squash would also make welcome additions or substitutions.

My CSA includes one dozen eggs each week, so we add soft-boiled eggs for protein. Canned tuna and Nicoise olives add protein and flavor without heating the house, perfect for our hot and steamy July days in Tennessee.

This recipe comes together in about 30 minutes, and is based on an "easy" salade nicoise recipe:

A few notes:
For the tuna, I recommend to use the best quality vacuum sealed or canned tuna available to you. I use canned tuna packed in oil available at the nearest grocery store.

Nicoise olives, as you might find in an olive bar, are worth the trip to the nearest specialty grocery store. But if that is out of the question, then Kalamata olives from the pickle aisle will do. Or if you do not care for Olives, select from another briny pickle option.

For the homemade vinaigrette, I take Julia Child's advice and use the best quality vinegar and extra virgin olive oil available. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a shop that will allow you to sample their olive oils, I recommend shopping this way. Otherwise, look for a first, cold-pressed variety made in the United States, from United States olives, such as Katz farms.

Ingredient amounts are approximate, as you may prepare main ingredients ahead of time in a large batch and then portion out to taste, prior to serving.

Step 1: Cook haricot verts and potatoes. 
Recently, I've started using the same pot of boiling water. For both, because Summer. First blanche the green beans for 3-4 minutes, then shock in an ice bath. Boil potatoes for 15-20 minutes, or until soft. If your potatoes are more than about 1"-1.5" in diameter, first cut them into 1" chunks, taking care to make all pieces even in size. Roasted radishes or cauliflower could be used in place of potatoes if you happen to have these, or want to avoid carbohydrates.

Step 2: Prepare vinaigrette.
This is something to do while the potatoes cook. In a jar or small bowl, white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, dijon, finely minced shallots, and optionally, salt and black pepper. Add olive oil in a thin stream while whisking. Or shake until emulsified.

I use Julia Child's vinaigrette recipe as the gold standard:

Step 3: Prepare fresh salad ingredients. Peel and thinly slice cucumber, slice boiled eggs*, and portion out salad greens, if using.

* I prefer soft-boiled eggs, which require more precise cooking than hard-boiled eggs. I use a rice-cooker with a steamer basket to steam-cook eggs for about 6-7 minutes, depending on how runny I want the yolk. Using Julia Child's method, I immerse the eggs in ice water for about a minute before placing back in the steamer for 30 seconds. This allows for easier peeling.

Step 4: Final Assembly
This salad may be served immediately, or assembled in a container for meal-prep, to be enjoyed later in the week. If assembling for meal-prep, place potatoes, olives and green beans into a mason jar first, followed by softer ingredients like cucumber and boiled egg. Softest ingredients, like salad greens, should be placed on top. Add dressing, tuna, tomato and/or eggs just before serving. Small containers for individual portions of dressing are handy when meal-prepping salad.

Enjoy with white wine or a la croix!

Dressing Ingredient Amounts:

1/2 tablespoon shallot or scallion, finely minced

1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar

1/3 to 1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
Freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Salad Ingredient Amounts for 4 portions

2–4 hard boiled eggs

8 oz. green beans or haricot verts
8 oz. baby potatoes, or new potatoes cut into 1" chunks

1 large cucumber, or several smaller ones, to make about 1 cup sliced
5 oz. salad greens

4 4 oz cans of tuna in oil (or packets of your preferred kind)

1/4 cup Nicoise olives (or fermented or pickled vegetables)

2 Tbsp. capers (optional)

3-4 medium garden tomatoes cut into wedges (optional, but not really)
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