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Healthy lifestyle – Nicoise salad recipe

I’ve been craving sushi and seared tuna recently. It got to the point where I was a bit worried, and Andrew told me to stop eating so much sushi because of ~Mercury poisoning~.

My favourite way to eat seared tuna is on a Nicoise salad. I am deeply perturbed by tinned tuna (aka cat food), and won’t touch the stuff, so it always has to be a proper loin steak (I know, get me!). But I’ve found it surprisingly hard to find a decent recipe for it. There’s either whole anchovy fillets in it, which I cannot stomach, or the recipe called for frying the potatoes, which is just plain bad for you.

This recipe is good for you because it has so much goodness packed in there it’s verging on the obscene. The dressing is olive oil, which is a good fat, plus lemon juice, which is full of Vitamin C. You also make this sort-of tapenade which contains olives (contain antioxidants that lower your chances of heart disease), anchovies (packed with good fish oils, which help maintain healthy tissue in the body) and balsamic vinegar (high in antioxidants and potassium, which helps boost your metabolism and heart health). And that’s just the dressing! The green beans and tomatoes provide vital vitamins and are in their most original state, meaning you’ve not lost many nutrients from over processing them. Eggs are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They raise HDL (healthy cholesterol), are rich in antioxidants and iron, phosphorous, selenium and vitamins A, B12, B2 and B5. They are also great at making you feel full. And then there’s the tuna, which is a good source of lean protein and contains all the essential amino acids the human body needs – plus they pack in yet more good fat and Omega-3 oils.

Right, now we’ve covered all of that, here’s the recipe:

Nicoise Salad
Serves 2 generously

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Ingredients

For the dressing
– A large handful of pitted black olives
– 1 garlic clove, peeled
– 5 anchovy fillets
– 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– juice of 1/2 lemon

For the salad
- 300g new potatoes, large ones halved
– 100g trimmed fine green beans
– 2 eggs
– 2 baby gem lettuces, washed
– 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
– drizzle of olive oil
– juice 1/2 lemon
– 300-350g fresh tuna loin steak

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Method

1. First you make your dressing, which is more like a tapenade if you ask me. Put all of your dressing ingredients into a blender and blitz until you have a smooth paste. Scoop into a bowl and put to one side.
2. Boil the new potatoes in lightly salted water until they’re soft. This normally takes about 20 minutes.
3. Boil the green beans for about 5 minutes. Do not let them lose any of their vibrant colour by over cooking them. Drain the beans immediately and run cold water over them until they’re cool. This stops the cooking process and makes sure they retain their juicy vitamins.
4. Put the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with tap water (as in not water from the kettle). Put on a high heat until the water starts to boil. Once they do, turn the heat down to medium so it simmers and put a timer on for 6 minutes. As soon as the six minutes is over, plunge them into cold water. Once they’re cold, peel and halve and set to one side.
5. In a large bowl put your freshly washed gem lettuce leaves and drizzle over some olive oil and the lemon juice. Toss so they’re all lightly coated.
6. Now start constructing your salad. Put a dessert-spoon amount of tapenade/dressing in the middle of each person’s plate and spread out a bit using the back of the spoon. Then divide the lettuce between the two plates, and top that with the tomatoes, beans, potatoes and egg.

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7. Put the tuna on a chopping board and lightly coat with olive oil. I use a pastry brush to do this as it coats the meat well without leaving it swimming in oil. Then sprinkle on some salt flakes and grind over some black pepper.

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8. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat, until it’s screamingly hot. Then put your tuna steak in there. If you want it pretty rare like mine, cook on each size for 3 minutes for a thick steak. For a more well-done piece increase the time by a minute on each side.

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9. Remove the tuna from the pan and slice it, then lay it ontop of your salad. Use the remaining tapenade to dot around the plate. 

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