Seared Tuna with a Warm Vinaigrette: A Winter-Style Tuna Nicoise
Seared tuna steak served on bed of small potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes and olives with a warm vinaigrette dressing. This is an attempt to re-create some of the essence of a bright summer tuna salad nicoise but with a cold winter creeping under the door.
Ingredients for 2 Servings (takes around 30 minutes in total to prepare):
- 2 medium-sized fresh Tuna Steaks (mine were around 160g each but I could have lived with smaller), marinated in a little olive oil with a pinch of salt, does not need to marinade for hours, 20 minutes or less would do it. It is more like bathing than marinading.
- 400g baby Potatoes
- 200g fine Green Beans
- 150g Cherry or small Plum Tomatoes
- Handful of pitted, whole Black Olives
For the Warm Vinaigrette:
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar (white wine vinegar can just be too sharp)
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, basil-infused or even chili-infused oil would be lovely
- 1/2 tsp runny Honey
- Sprinkle of Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
[Pre-prep a la Jamie Oliver: Warm an oven to around 100 degrees Celsius. Set two steamers with hot water. Fetch a chopping board, a vegetable knife and colander to wash and drain veg. Find a skillet, medium-sized pot and two dinner plates, a serving spoon, oven gloves, tongs or fish slice, a small jug and set the table…pour self some wine as an aide to the cooking process. Assemble all other ingredients from fridge and cupboards…]
Steaming the Vegetables: Clean, trim and steam the potatoes, which takes the same time as boiling (about 15-20 minutes) but you have a little more control over keeping them firm and they are not going to be soggy inside. Trim the green beans and set to steam about two-thirds into the cooking time for steaming the potatoes. When almost done, a minute or so to go, add in the cherry tomatoes to the green beans, you want the tomatoes to be properly warmed through and just starting to cook but nowhere near going into mush with the skins peeling off. You could grill them separately but that is just more faff and bother.
Making the Warm Vinaigrette: In a large pot over a very low heat, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, honey and salt, the quantity is small as I do not want to drown the steamed veg, so it may be easier to do this in a jug first. Add the olive oil, whisking to combine and then heat to “blood” temperature, i.e. (only theoretically of course) you could you stick a hand in there and not have to go to accident and emergency. Do not cook the vinaigrette for long or the vinegar will start to boil off and choke everyone in the vicinity of the kitchen. Do not enquire as to how I know this!
Searing the Tuna: Warm a skillet/frying pan over a medium heat, drizzle in a tiny bit of olive oil, i.e. we are so not deep-frying here, and turn up the heat to full blast. Then, one steak at a time so as not to cool down the skillet too much, sear both sides of the tuna for 30 seconds each side, remove from the heat and place in shallow dish and then together into your pre-warmed oven for no more than a couple of minutes while you assemble the plates. Tuna searing is very much a preference, some like it almost rare, some prefer it cooked all through. I cannot abide chewy tuna nor tuna that is reminiscent of something with which one would re-sole an old boot. The timings given are for a soft, medium steak, with inner pinkiness remaining. Set serving plates to warm in the same oven as the tuna.
Finishing the Dish: The easiest thing to do is to tip the warmed vinaigrette back into a little jug, add the steamed vegetables and the olives to the vinaigrette pot, still on a gentle heat, and pour most of the dressing on, folding round carefully without mushing everything up. Spoon the vegetable onto a serving plate, placing a tuna steak on top and drizzle with the remaining warm vinaigrette. Garnish however you please, basil leaves, spring onion spears, thin slices of lemon, be creative (or not, let’s be honest it’s midweek, it’s a nice dinner, what more d’ya want?).