Tuna nicoise salad

Never toss a nicoise - ingredients should be composed with an eye for colour and contrast.
Never toss a nicoise - ingredients should be composed with an eye for colour and contrast. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Gluten-free

Crisp seasonal vegetables, just-seared tuna and creamy eggs in a robust dressing with salty anchovies, capers, olives and greens is a Provencal playlist you can shuffle all summer long.

Ingredients

600g thick tuna steaks

400g green beans, topped but not tailed

8 small kipfler or red-skinned potatoes

4 large free-range eggs

400g cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

200g watercress sprigs

8 small radishes, halved or quartered

200g mixed black olives

½ red onion, finely sliced

8 anchovy fillets

1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed

handful of basil leaves

Marinade

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

2 tsp fennel seeds

½ tsp sea salt flakes

Dressing

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Method

1. To make the marinade, gently heat the oil, garlic, fennel seeds and salt in a frypan over low heat for 2 minutes until fragrant, then set aside to cool. Coat the tuna steaks in the marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Cook the green beans in a pot of simmering salted water for 2 minutes, then scoop them out and refresh in cold water. Add the potatoes to the pot and simmer until tender, about 18 minutes. Drain and cut in half or into rounds.

3. Cook eggs in boiling water for 6 minutes, then plunge into cold water to stop the cooking. Drain, peel and cut in half. Cut the tomatoes in half and season with salt.

4. To cook the tuna, heat the olive oil in a frypan over high heat, and sear the steaks for 60 seconds on each side, leaving the middle pink. Set aside to rest.

5. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

6. To serve, lightly coat the watercress in half the dressing, and arrange on four dinner plates. Slice the tuna and arrange on plates with green beans, potato, egg, tomato and radish, keeping an eye on colour and contrast. Tuck in the olives, onion, anchovy, capers and basil leaves. Drizzle with remaining dressing before serving.

Tips:

Arrange salty ingredients near bland ones, so anchovies and olives with eggs and potatoes.

Never toss a salad nicoise – ingredients should be composed with an eye for colour and contrast.

Cook the beans, eggs and potatoes ahead, but don't refrigerate, which kills the flavour stone-cold dead.