Ahi Tuna Niçoise Salad with Avocado, Blistered Tomatoes & Deviled Eggs
It seems so insanely crazy to me that just several years ago, I didn't eat much seafood at all. Poultry, beef, and pork was the name in my meat-eating game, and I was perfectly content with that dietary routine never changing. The smell of fish bothered me and the taste and texture was...well, you might as well have gagged me with a spoon.
I know I've told you guys about my seafood opposition in the past and I also know that I've told you just how in love I am with fried, broiled, grilled, and raw creatures of the sea today. It's true. I can't think of another meat I'd rather devour than some perfectly tender shellfish like shrimp, scallops, and crab or a nice big and luscious seared Ahi tuna steak.
You may also know that it takes one really good-looking salad to get me excited. While I can eat sautéed asparagus, grilled zucchini, southern-style green beans, and fried okra all day long, salads don't usually do it for me. The cold roughage- doused in some mediocre vinaigrette. Meh, I'll take it or leave it.
But this salad...this salad is another story. Tuna Niçoise Salad. It's a classic. With traditional components like hard-boiled eggs, Haricots verts (Think: French green beans), cherry tomatoes, potatoes, Niçoise olives, and of course, tuna of some sort, it's a classic that isn't exactly boasting culinary excellence.
That is, until, one does some recipe revamping. The Tuna Niçoise Salad is actully meant to shine. With a simple twist on some of the its usual suspects, Tuna Niçoise becomes so much more than a generic salad off a cafe menu.
First and foremost, the tuna from the can has got to go. Replaced with seared Ahi or Yellowtail and you've just given the salad one serious boost. Blacken said fish, and it's almost an all-star. But there's more. Hard-boiled eggs just aren't that interesting. But creamy and divine deviled eggs made with capers...well, that's something to get excited about. Oh, and plain ole cherry tomatoes are lack-luster too. But olive oil rubbed, blistered tomatoes? They are perfectly tangy and offer a whole new texture.
So there you have it. Tuna Niçoise Salad, re-created by yours truly. I also opted for kalamata olives versus the Niçoise variety based on convenience (don't judge. I'm aware this seems crazy). And, I reluctantly left the potatoes out of the mix. Feel free to cook up some baby reds, though. I totally approve.
Ahi Tuna Niçoise Salad with Blistered Tomatoes & Caper Deviled Eggs
1 pound Ahi or Yellowfin Tuna
8 ounce mix of baby arugula and baby spinach (or use whatever greens you prefer)
1 ripe avocado
3 ounces Haricots Verts, trimmed
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup Niçoise, Black, or Kalamata olives
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons blackening seasoning (I use Chef Paul's)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
For the Deviled Eggs:
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 tablespoon mayo
3 teaspoons capers
salt and pepper
For the dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Then, on a large baking sheet, lightly coat cherry tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes have blistered. Remove from oven and set aside.
2) Bring a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water to a light boil. Sprinkle salt in the water and then add the French green beans. Cook uncovered for 3 minutes and then transfer to a colander and run under cold water.
3) Make the deviled eggs. Remove shell from eggs and slice eggs in halves. Carefully scoop out the yolk and place in a small bowl. Add the capers, mayo, salt and pepper. With a fork, mash and combine the yolk with the other ingredients. Then, spoon the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Top with capers.
4) Bring a large skillet to medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pat the tuna steak dry with paper towels and rub with blackening seasoning. When the oil sizzles, place the tuna in the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side (depending if you want it rare or medium-rare). Remove from pan and place on cutting board.
5) Prepare the dressing. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil. Whisk. Then, slowly whisk in the olive oil. To the bowl, add the spinach and arugula, olives, and red onion. Toss until coated with dressing.
6) Cut open the avocado and remove seed with a large knife. Slice and spoon out of the skin. Then, slice the tuna steak in about 1/4 inch thick pieces.
7) Using tongs, plate the salad. Sprinkle Feta cheese on top. Place the green beans, sliced avocado, tuna, deviled eggs, and blistered tomatoes on the side.
***Makes 2-3 servings, depending on portion size.
***For photo purposes, I reduced the quantity of ingredients for each plate.