March 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 1:42 pm

I think this might be called ‘having too much time on your hands’.

tuna nicoise

After 12 weeks of school canteen meals, scrounging processed cheese sandwiches from the kids’ lunch time maths clubs and, at worst but most frequently, skipping lunch altogether, I’m ready for some good home-cooked food at lunchtime. I may have gone a little over the top this time, but can you blame me? This is the first time since the Christmas break that I’ve had time to spend in the kitchen.

The dish pictured above is a tuna nicoise. Like most contemporary restaurants, I have foregone the traditional use of flaked tuna and replaced this with a seared tuna steak. I’ve also replaced the boiled hen’s egg with three soft (in theory) boiled quails’ eggs. Everthing else remains the same apart from a little (in theory) drizzle of balsamic reduction to dip the cherry tomatoes in. Yes, I know there is too much reduction and two of the quails’ eggs are overcooked. I’d like to see you make this perfectly first time around. :p

I first encountered a tuna nicoise made like this in a lovely little tapas bar in Leamington Spa. The dish didn’t stay on the menu for long but the memory lingered with me and I’ve never found a nicoise as good since then. So, what better to do on the first of my 21 days off work than recreate it as closely as possible in my own kitchen while Goon and our new pet looked at me as if I was crazy. 

Goon accused me of over-cooking the tuna.

tuna close up

Yeah, right, like that’s ever going to happen. I might forget to cook it at all one day, but overcook it? Never!

Have a nice day at work, everybody! :D

Mini Tuna Nicoise  (enough for a starter or a midday meal for someone who’s not particularly used to eating lunch)

  • 1 small tuna steak (100g or so), griddled to rare (or practially raw if, like myself, you’re that way inclined)
  • a small handful frisee lettuce
  • 5 or 6 green beans, steamed until just cooked and cut in half)
  • Around 10 black pitted olives, halved
  • 2 or 3 baby new potatoes, cooked and halved
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 soft boiled quails’ eggs, peeled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 extra tablespoons balsamic vinegar, reduced to a thick syrup.

Toss the lettuce, beans, olives and potatoes in the vinigrette dressing. Pile into the center of a large, flat serving plate. Balance the tuna teak on top. Arrange the tomatoes and quail egg pieces around the main salad and drizzle the balsamic reduction around it.


  1. It did look overcooked from the outside.

    Admittedly it does look less overcooked from the inside ;)

    Comment by Andy Millar — March 26, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

  2. Hi Ros

    Thanks for adding my blog to your sidebar.

    My next post was going to be a tuna salad nicoise, not sure I want to go through with it after seeing your effort though - it’s so much more artily presented than mine was.


    Comment by Joshua — March 26, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

  3. hi ros,

    what was Goon thinking, that tuna is cooked to perfection, beautiffuly presented as well. i made the nicoise for my girlfriend and she loved it!

    thank you very much

    Comment by jack bedford — March 26, 2008 @ 10:52 pm

  4. oh yes, i also found a new butcher that’s amazing, it’s in cricklewood and although it’s pricey it’s well worth it. it’s called Bifulco and is owned by an italian family. if you try it and you like it reccomend it to all your friends because they are not doing too well at the moment. by the way, they make a marvellous rib roast

    Comment by jack bedford — March 26, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

  5. Phwoar! Perfectly cooked, I’d say. Do I see an anchovy peeking out in the top left hand corner?

    Comment by schmoof — March 27, 2008 @ 8:35 pm

  6. simply gorgeous, ros! your plating is terrific and that tuna looks cooked to perfection. i’m very envious of your 21 days off! i would love just a week off.

    Comment by amanda — March 28, 2008 @ 4:51 am

  7. That looks beautiful Ros, perfectly cooked tuna and wonderfully presented.

    Comment by Ginger — March 29, 2008 @ 10:28 pm

  8. Yes, Andy. Of course you can tell how well a steak has been cooked from it’s outward appearance.

    Hi Josh, you should post your nicoise, especially if it involved anchovies, the ingredient I didn’t have. Mine doesn’t involve arty presentation so much as taking time to find silly angles to take pictures (and excluding the unsightly bob of balsamic that I created in the corner).

    Hi Jack, I’m glad your girlfriend enjoyed the salad. I’ll try to find my way to the butcher you mentioned. It’s a bit difficult as it is on the opposite side of the heath from school so it is a bit out of my way, but I’ll see if I can make my way over during the holidays.

    Hi Schmoof, sadly no anchovies. I’ve had trouble getting my hands on good ones lately. I think what you are seeing is a little bit of the tuna that flaked off when I cut the steak in half to prove to Goon that I hadn’t overooked it.

    Hi Amanda, my boss says that, even though the kids think the hols are for them, they actually ist to stop teachers from having nervous breakdowns. I think he’s right. I’m told things get easier though…

    Hi Ginger. Thanks- but I’m still nowhere near rivalling your wonderful photos!

    Comment by ros — March 31, 2008 @ 12:24 am

  9. Have you tried balsamic syrup for this? There’s no going back afterwards.

    Comment by James — April 1, 2008 @ 11:05 am

  10. Ooooh, that looks perfectly heavenly. There are few things I love more than barely seared tuna atop a nice Nicoise salad. Gorgeous plating. How did you manage to keep Goon off the plates till you’d taken the pics?? ;-)

    Comment by Jeanne — April 21, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

  11. Fantastic presentation! Love that nicoise salad, thanks for sharing:-)

    Comment by Colon Cleanse Geek — July 8, 2008 @ 3:08 am

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