The French language has a knack for making every single food sound fancy, have you noticed? Béchamel, au poivre, gratin, and en croute are just a few terms/dishes that prove it. At its root a béchamel is just an ordinary white sauce sans cheese. Au Poivre means black pepper encrusted. A gratin is simply a dish with a crust of melted cheese. And en croute means to wrap in puff pastry.
All are pretty basic cooking methods or preparations, but the way they roll off your tongue makes them sound anything but basic.
One of my very favorite French dishes that sounds ultra fancy, but isn’t, is a nicoise salad. You can spot one of these on pretty much every French bistro’s lunch menu, although every restaurant and cook has his or her own version of it. Classically from what I gather, and have observed most often, it’s a composed salad made up of oil-cured tuna, French green beans, hard-boiled eggs, soft potatoes, tomatoes, and nicoise olives. Every ingredient is artfully displayed on your plate, and you can pick and choose how you want each bite to taste.
For me, the perfect bite must have a little bit of everything, so I thought I’d take all of the ingredients, chop them up, and – because I’m slightly obsessed with noodles –serve it as a pasta salad instead.
Another important trademark of French food? Quality ingredients. Here, I’ve used nothing but the best – organic tomatoes, perfect green beans, farm-fresh eggs, salty kalamata olives (I could not find nicoise olives), and high-quality olive oil-packed albacore tuna from Genova Seafood.
Before receiving the tuna from Genova (I was gifted a few cans), I never really paid much attention to canned tuna brands – it was all the same to me. BUT immediately upon opening up the can of tuna Genova sent to me, I knew I’d been cheated my entire life. The entire dish is packed with giant flakes of tuna, and then is packed in 100% pure olive oil. I’m not going to lie to you, I was literally eating it with a fork out of the can before it made its way into the salad. I was also lucky enough to sample their Yellowfin Tuna in olive oil that was just as divine – my job is the worst isn’t it??!
So at first glance of the recipe, it may seem a little daunting, I get it, there are a lot of ingredients, but here’s what I do to streamline everything. I fill two large pots up with water, add my eggs and quartered potatoes to one pot and then bring them both to a boil. Once they both come to a boil, I start timing the eggs, and then throw the green beans into the other pot. The green beans cook for just a minute or two, they’re removed and thrown into an ice bath and then the pasta goes in. Once the pasta is done cooking, the potatoes and eggs should be done, leaving you to just cool everything off, chop everything up and throw it all together along with the tuna and salad dressing.
Season with a little bit of salt and pepper, and your fancy French pasta salad is complete.
- 3 eggs
- 6 new potatoes
- ¼ lb. French green beans
- ½ lb rotini pasta
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 cup nicoise or kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 2 cans Genova Albacore Tuna packed in olive oil
- 3 Tlbs. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 3 tsp olive oil
- Fill a small bowl with ice water.
- Fill two large pots with water. Add eggs and potatoes to one pot. Season both with salt. Bring both pots to a rolling boil. Once they come to a boil, set a timer for 8 minutes, remove eggs after 8 minutes and let cool. Cook potatoes until fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Add green beans to pot without eggs and potatoes, cook for 1-2 minutes, remove with tongs and plunge into ice water. Add pasta to the pot without the eggs and potatoes. Cook pasta until aldente, drain and run under cool water until pasta is cold.
- Peel eggs and roughly chop. Quarter potatoes. Chop green beans.
- Toss pasta with eggs, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, tuna, and dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Genova provided me with product for the purpose of this post, as well as compensation for my time and recipe, of course, all opinions are HONEST and my own.