Let’s Talk Tuna!
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
When I was growing up, the only tuna I remember eating was in a can. I had it in the form of tuna salad andwich or served on lettuce. And I ate it in tuna noodle casserole or as a tuna melt. That was the limit of my knowledge. Eventually I would be introduced to one of my favorite salads – the Tuna Niçoise Salad. I had no idea how delicious tuna could be until I had it cooked rare and served on top of this salad.
Tuna, in my opinion, is a very versatile fish. It’s a great, self-stable, budget-friendly protein when you opt for the pre-cooked version. I prefer the packets, which are more convenient for a meal on the go. My favorite lately is the Bumble Bee brand in water. It’s wild-caught and 16 grams of protein. I get the plain version and doctor it up myself. I like to mix it with a variety of vegetables such as tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, and artichoke, among others to make a tuna bowl or a type of salad. I will add olives, feta, and oregano to make it Mediterranean-style or fresh basil for an Italian version. It’s a very quick, easy way to prepare a tasty, healthy lunch when you don’t have much time.
I also love fresh tuna though. Whenever I find it on sale, I buy it. Tuna is great as the main protein in a meal and it’s even better to use any leftovers on salads like the Niçoise and I usually end up with enough to use it in more than one meal. I like it with a heavy bit of black pepper all over it or covered in toasted sesame seeds. I sear it on the stove for about 3 minutes on each side and cook it to rare.
If I know I want to make my own version of a Niçoise Salad that week, I’ll just lightly salt and pepper it before searing. Below is a version I like to make. It is simple to make and is one delicious meal!
Tuna Niçoise Salad
4 oz of fresh tuna
1 cup of lettuce (any lettuce of your choice. I prefer red leaf lettuce)
Green beans cooked until just tender
Fingerling potatoes (or any small ones you like)
White onion thinly sliced (you could also use green onions) and capers for garnish
¼ of a medium shallot small dice
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 T of white wine vinegar
1 T of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Put the potatoes in a pan with water, bring to a boil and cook until they are fork tender.
While the potatoes cook, make the dressing. Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine, or if you have a small jar with a lid, put it all in there, seal and shake to combine. Set aside.
Prepare veggies – slice cucumber and radish, cut the tomatoes in half, and chop lettuce. Once potatoes are cooked, drain and put them in a bowl. Drizzle a little of the dressing on them while they are still warm.
Then, use the same pan to boil the green beans until just tender. Immediately submerge the green beans in cold water to stop the cooking once they are done.
While the green beans are cooking, season the 4 oz. of tuna with salt and pepper and sear on medium high heat to preferred doneness. How long to cook it will depend on the thickness and desired temperature. If you want it rare and it’s a thicker cut, you’ll probably only need to cook it for 3 minutes on each side. I cut thinner steaks from a thicker cut of tuna to make it go farther for the week.
You can begin to assemble the salad ingredients while the beans and tuna cook. Place lettuce down first and add some of the vegetables on the outside of the dish. Once tuna is finished cooking, place it in the center on top of the salad with vegetables and olives surrounding. Top with dressing and garnish with sliced scallion.
Alternative option – add thinly sliced radish, chopped cucumber and hard boil an egg.