This salad, drawing on ingredients from the south of France, is an international classic. Chef Austin adds his own touches -- balsamic vinegar, fava beans, and quail eggs.
- Balsamic Vinegar - 3 tablespoons
- Sherry Vinegar - 1 tablespoon
- Anchovy paste - 1 teaspoon
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 3⁄4 cup
- White pepper to taste
- Niçoise Salad
- Fresh Fava Beans - 2 ounces, shelled
- Haricots verts or small green beans - 3 ounces
- Red bliss potatoes - 4 ounces, sliced
- Quail Eggs - 4
- Sashimi-grade Yellowfin Tuna - 8 ounces
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Coarse sea salt and white pepper to taste
- Fresh Thyme - 4 sprigs, chopped
- Mesclun Salad Greens - 4 ounces
- Roma Tomatoes - 4, peeled and seeded (see Basics)
- Red Bell Pepper - 1, roasted (see Basics) and sliced into thin strips
- Anchovy Fillets - 4
- Black Olives - 2 tablespoons, pitted
To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl whisk together the vinegars and anchovy paste. Beat in the oil by droplets to make a homogeneous sauce. You may find it easier to do this with a handheld electric mixer. Season to taste with white pepper.
To prepare the salad: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the fava beans in the water just until they turn bright green, about 2 minutes. With a long-handled strainer remove the fava beans from the pot and plunge them into a bowl of ice water. Drain again and peel. Next, cook the haricots verts in the boiling water, about 2 minutes or until tender. Remove with a long-handled strainer to the ice water, cool, and drain. Finally, add the red bliss potatoes to the boiling water and cook about 10 minutes until tender. Remove to the ice bath, drain, and reserve.
In a small saucepan over high heat cook the quail eggs in lightly salted boiling water about 4 to 6 minutes until boiled. Peel and halve the eggs. Divide the fresh tuna into 2-ounce portions. Season with olive oil, coarse salt, white pepper, and fresh thyme. Heat a large nonstick sauté pan or skillet over high heat. Sear the tuna in the skillet about 30 seconds on each side. Remove from the pan and slice.
Line the serving plates with the mesclun salad greens, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Toss the fava beans in a mixing bowl with a little of the vinaigrette. In a separate bowl toss the haricots verts with a little of the vinaigrette. Cut the tomatoes into 4 pieces, and drizzle a small amount of the dressing over the tomatoes.
To serve: Place a portion of tuna in the center of each serving plate, and arrange the potatoes around the tuna. Mound the haricots verts at strategic points, interspersing with tomatoes, red pepper strips, and fava beans. Place the quail egg halves around the salad, and curl an anchovy fillet on top of each half. Spoon more vinaigrette over all. Scatter on the olives.