We went to The Villages last week to hang out with the 'rents for a few days. Have y'all ever been to The Villages? It's a massive retirement community in central Florida......and I mean massive. I've been going down there for about 10 years and I still couldn't drive anywhere by myself. I'd never be able to find my way back home. And GPS doesn't work there, I'm sure. Too confusing even for technology.
Anyhoo, the trip started out pretty shitty when we blew a tire on I75. The good news is it was in the middle of Atlanta so getting it fixed wasn't as much of a challenge as it could have been but it did add a couple of hours to what is already a long trip. The rest of the trip couldn't have been better.....my mother's lasagna, tons of pickleball, cocktail party with friends, Fletch met new friends and got golf cart rides, Ohio State football and a trip to Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa (I'm going to do a separate post about Bern's because.....amazing!)
So after all that gluttony, it was back to healthier fare this week. We do a lot of salads around here and Nicoise is one of the mister's favorite. But let's be real.....I'm not that into multi-prep dinners every night, especially when it comes to salad. So, when mama wants to put papa in a good mood (because she might have done a little shopping) she puts in a little extra effort. Just sayin.
I usually prefer to just grill the tuna because EASY, but I've been eying the olive oil poached tuna in Nancy Silverton's new book, Mozza at Home. What a fabulous book. I've dogeared practically every recipe in it. Each chapter is basically a menu with several recipes but you can pick and choose. The Nicoise chapter consists of separate, more elaborate recipes of each component, but I just wanted to try the tuna and the greens. Hard to believe, but I'd never "olive oil-poached" anything before. This seemed like as good a time as any. So easy. Look, you can always buy canned/jarred poached tuna, but this is so doable.
The rest consists of hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, boiled baby potatoes, blanched green beans and a lemon vinaigrette to drizzle over everything. Everyone can make hard-boiled eggs, but y'all......I got that Instant Pot that is all the rage right now and hard-boiled eggs have become my life. I like my yolks on the under-done side, so 4minutes at high pressure, manual release, 5 minutes in an ice bath and BOOM. How gorgeous are those things!!
Boil a pot of water, blanch the beans for about 4-5 minutes (I like them still crisp.....mushy green beans are my childhood nightmare), drop them in an ice bath and drain. Use that same pot of boiling water to cook the potatoes. Takes about 12-15 minutes depending on the size of your spuds. Slice them in half while they're still warm and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette. It'll soak right into those babies and make them delish.
Olive Oil-Poached Tuna
Mozza at Home, Nancy Silverton
(I halved this recipe to feed two)
2 pounds (2-inch-thick) albacore tuna
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh coarsely ground black pepper
3 cups olive oil
1/2 cup champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
8 bay leaves, preferably fresh
3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick lengthwise
4 arbol chili pods
6 (2-inch-long) fresh rosemary sprigs
Maldon sea salt (or other flaky sea salt such as fleur de sel)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
Cut the tuna into 3- to 4-inch chunks. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and pepper and set the tuna aside for 10 minutes to come to room temperature while you prepare the poaching ingredients.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel the outer skin of the lemons. Throw the peels into a large ovenproof saucepan. Slice the lemons into 1/4-inch thick rounds, discarding the ends, and throw the rounds into the saucepan. Add the olive oil, remaining salt, pepper, vinegar, bay leaves, garlic, chili pods, and rosemary. Heat the oil over high heat until it begins to bubble around the edges. Turn the heat off and use a slotted spoon to carefully place the albacore chunks in the oil without the oil splattering. Put the lid on the pan, or cover tightly with aluminum foil, and put the pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, remove the lid or foil and let the fish cool to room temperature in the oil.
Meanwhile, set a colander over a large bowl. Pour the contents of the pan into the colander. Reserve the oil for another use or to store leftover tuna, if you have any.
To serve, lay the tuna artfully on a medium rimmed platter, layering in the lemon, lemon peels, bay leaves, garlic, chilis, and rosemary sprigs in a way that looks pretty. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve with tongs.
Bibb Salad with Soft Herbs
2 bibb lettuce heads, cores and outer unappealing leaves removed and discarded, remaining leaves chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2tbsp Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
25 (1-inch-long) fresh chive battonettes
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Put lettuce leaves in a large bowl. Drizzle the lemon juice and sprinkle the salt over the lettuce and toss to coat the lettuce.
Drizzle 1/3 of the 1/2 cup vinaigrette over the lettuce. Reserve 4 or 5 chive batonettes. Sprinkle one-third of the remaining chives and one-third of the chopped dill, tarragon, and parsley over the salad and toss gently, massaging the vinaigrette into the leaves to distribute the herbs and coat the leaves with the vinaigrette. Continue adding the vinaigrette and herbs, a third at a time, and tossing and massaging to distribute the herbs and coat the leaves with vinaigrette, until you have added all of the chopped herbs and 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette. Add the last 2 tablespoons only if needed to coat the greens.
makes 1 cup
(I double this to use later in the week)
1/4 cup minced shallot
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine the shallot lemon juice, vinegar, and salt in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify. Use the vinaigrette or refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days. Bring the vinaigrette to room temperature and whisk to recombine the ingredients before using.
I assemble all the components of the Nicoise on a platter and drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette over everything. Not a lot.....just a light drizzle. I then hit it all with a bit of sea salt and ground black pepper.