Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tuna Nicoise - My Go to Summer Entertaining Dinner

During the summer months, my style of entertaining is easy and laid back.  Choosing a menu that can be prepared ahead of time is the key.  Tuna Nicoise is just that type of one serving platter meal that can be served chilled or at room temp.  The ingredients are very simple, but elegant. The presentation is absolutely splendid.

This was a weeknight entertaining dinner that I prepared a few things the day before, picked up the tuna during my lunch hour day of, and finish prep after work.   If you have a garden, most of the vegetables and herbs can be fresh picked, and the traditional vinaigrette can be used on all the vegetables.  Since I’m a Sushi lover, I like to use fresh tuna steaks (Sushi Grade) seared at a high temperature in a cast iron skillet and then sliced ¼ inch.  

The platter I used is one of my Williams Sonoma favorites, it makes food look amazing and numerous dinners have been planned around using it.  Add a simple appetizer, crunchy bread, a green salad with shaved parmesan, and a store-bought dessert or fresh fruit and you’re done.   

So this is the plan:

Day before:  

  • Hunt and gather.  
  • Cook hardboiled eggs and chill
  • Boil beets, peel and chill
  • Make vinaigrette
Day of:
  • Buy fresh tuna steaks
  • Blanch string beans, shock in ice water, dress with vinaigrette
  • Cook potatoes, dress with vinaigrette, and chill.
  • Sear tuna steak and slice.
  • Assemble platter.

1 lemon – juiced
1 tbs. – Champagne Vinegar
8 tbs. – Olive Oil
1 tps. – Mustard – Grey Poupon
1 tsp. – fresh chives – finely chopped
1 tsp. – fresh basil – julienned
1 clove of garlic minced

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and chill overnight.  Re-whisk before using.    

Tuna Nicoise Platter
2 hardboiled eggs – quartered
1 large beet boiled, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 tomatoes – quartered
1 red onion – thinly sliced
1 jar or tin of good quality anchovies – rinsed and dried
Olives – Nicoise or Kalamata  - ½ cup
1 lb.  thin string beans
1 lb. baby new red-skinned potatoes
1 bunch of arugula
Salt & Pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add beans and cook for 3-4 mins - they should have a crunch. Remove beans and place in a bowl of ice water, drain and toss with 1 tbs. Vinaigrette dressing and 1 tbs. of sliced red onions.   

Meanwhile add potatoes to the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes; drain in colander and cover with a dish towel for 10 minutes.  Slice the potatoes while still hot and toss in a bowl with 2 tbs. of vinaigrette and chives and basil.  S&P to taste.  

Preheat a cast iron pan. Brush tuna liberally with olive oil and season well on both sides with salt & pepper. Cook in a very hot cast iron skillet for 1-3 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking. I like to have the outside charred, but the middle still very pink and rare (1.5 minutes) on each side.  

To assemble platter, arrange vegetables, anchovies, hardboiled eggs, olives in separate groups with the tuna in the middle.  Tuck in several bunches of arugula as a garnish.  Pour the rest of the vinaigrette over the platter and sprinkle with capers.  
Serves 4

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