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Grilled Tuna Niçoise with Anchovy Vinaigrette

Serves: Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • Anchovy Vinaigrette:
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar, plus more if needed
  • 12 anchovy fillets, minced to a paste
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers, preferably salt packed, rinsed and finely minced
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 8 small or 4 medium beets
  • 1½ pounds waxy potatoes such as fingerlings, unpeeled
  • 1 pound slender green beans such as haricots verts, ends trimmed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1¾ to 2 pounds ahi tuna steaks, about ¾ inch thick
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons fennel seed, crushed in a mortar or
  • spice grinder
  • 1 heart of butter lettuce, separated into leaves (reserve outer leaves for another use)
  • 4 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 pound cucumbers, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 16 radishes, trimmed
  • ¾cup unpitted Niç oise olives

Procedures:

Salade niçoise exists for those days when you are inundated with summer vegetables. Replace the usual canned tuna with grilled fresh ahi, open a bottle of chilled rosé, and toast the farmers whose hard work enables this feast.

To make the anchovy vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, anchovies, garlic, capers, tarragon, and fish sauce. Season to taste with salt.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. If the beet greens are attached, remove all but ½ inch of the stem. Reserve the greens and stems for another use. Put the beets in a large baking dish, and add water to a depth of ¼ inch. Cover and bake until a knife pierces them easily, 45 minutes or longer, depending on their size. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut into wedges.

Put the potatoes in a large pot and add salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and slice thickly.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and boil until they have lost their crispness but are still firm, about 5 minutes. Drain in a sieve or colander and immediately run under cold running water until cool. Drain again and pat thoroughly dry.

Put the eggs in a small saucepan with water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 6 minutes exactly. Drain and quickly run under cold running water until cool, then peel.

Prepare a moderate charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium (375°F). Coat the tuna with olive oil, then season with salt and the fennel. Grill directly over the coals or gas flame, turning once, until the tuna is just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Let cool to room temperature.

At serving time, line a large platter-or 2 platters if necessary-with the lettuce. By hand, break the tuna up into smaller pieces. Put it in a bowl and toss with enough of the vinaigrette to moisten it generously. Taste and adjust with more salt or vinegar as needed. Put the tuna in the center of the platter(s). Separately dress the beets, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers with enough of the vinaigrette to coat them; taste and adjust with more salt or vinegar as needed. (You can use the same bowl each time.) Arrange the vegetables around the tuna in separate mounds. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Sprinkle the eggs and radishes with a little salt and arrange them around the vegetables, tucking them where you can. Scatter the olives over all. Serve immediately, passing any extra vinaigrette.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing, Eating Local

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