The Brit and I always agree to disagree about our Friday dinner. His idea of relaxing is going out for (insert cheap and tasty ethnic food genre here) and mine is to cook a tasty meal at home. If we do go out his two top picks are indian and mexican, and mine are mediterranean and french. Who is the foreigner again? I forget…
This past Friday’s meal, however was an exception. We both agreed….to eat at home (gasp!) and to have none other than a Francophile aimed meal, complete with dishes from the south and the north. We had a friend coming to dinner that isn’t a huge fan of meats (don’t worry Marin Sun Farms, 4505 Meats, Fatted Calf, and Drewes Brothers, we still love you to pieces!).
The summer has come to an end, but there is still a plethora of amazing fruit and vegetables on its final leg at the market, including heirloom tomatoes. As one might of guessed, I had quite a few tasty veg kicking around from the last market shop: some string beans, waxy petite fingerlings, heirloom tomatoes, I could go on(since I tend to have an obsession with purchasing too many goods at the market). I swung my the grocery store, picked some delightful olives, some cheese, a nice crusty loaf of levain, and some tuna. You might or might not know where this is going now, but if you do, it was heaven. A deconstructed salad nicoise, and a delicious one at that. The freshly grilled, medium rare tuna was the definitely prize holder of the evening! Well… that and the Tart Tartin, but that is for another day.
Deconstructed Salad Nicoise
Adapted from Food and Wine, August 2009
Green Bean and Heirloom Tomato Salad
1/2 lb green bean, trimmed
1/2 lb heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tsp chopped tarragon
1/2 tbsp chopped chives
1/4 tsp thyme leaves
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and add the green beans to blanch. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, so they still retain their color and crispness. Drain, reserving the water in a bowl, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. In a separate bowl, whisk together the Dijon, vinegar, and slowly add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the beans, tomatoes tarragon, chives, and thyme. Toss well.
Grilled Nicoise Tuna Steaks
1 lb Grilling/Good Quality Grade Tuna, cut into 2 to 4 steaks, about 1 inch thick
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp crushed fennel seeds
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tsp oil, to season grill pan
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Mix all ingredients, except salt, pepper, and tuna in a bowl. To prepare tuna, wash fish, and pat dry. Place in a bowl, cover with marinate. If you want to plan with your meal do this when you place the potatoes into the oven. Marinate for 30 minutes, turning once half way though. Oil with olive oil and heat a grill pan over medium to high heat. Oiling your grill pan lightly, or your meat, or both, as well as cooking at a high heat, is the key to the fish not sticking. Shake your fish free of some of the marinate, and season with salt and pepper. When the pan begins to smoke, place the fish seasoned side down, season top side.
Do not touch the fish now until it is ready to turn. Do not turn down the heat. Allow the fish to cook until the “cooked” opaque color has gone 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up your fish, about 4 minutes. Flip, and do not touch again.
Stretch your hand out wide. Feel the skin between your thumb and index finger. The way this feels is how medium meat will feel to the touch. Poke your tuna, and compare its softness to this piece of your hand. If you like your fish medium, remove when the opaque color just covers the side of the fish entirely, about 2 to 3 minutes from flipping.
Remove the tuna. Allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice against the grain, and serve.
Roasted Fingerling and Baby Potatoes
2 lbs baby potatoes, chopped fairly large
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Place the green bean water back in a pot, add the potatoes, and bring to the boil. Cook the potatoes for 5 to ten minutes, until slightly soft. Drain the potatoes (this next step is key!) cover, and shake the pototoes to “rough” them up a bit. Place a roasting pan with 2 tbsp olive oil spread on it in the oven, at 450F, until the oil begins to lightly smoke. Remove, and (being careful!) place the potatoes onto the hot oil. Working quickly, salt and pepper potatoes, toss to coat, and return to oven. Roast until they begin to really crisp, 30 to 40 minutes. Flip, and roast an additional 10 minutes.
Serve all elements together with quality crusty bread, a selection of cheese, nicoise olives, and (if preferred) boiled eggs.