Salade Niçoise

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

This is one of those dishes that can turn up in many different guises. All too often it is a garbage bin of ingredients that has been put together with little care or thought. Properly made it should just consist of a few seasonal ingredients, well seasoned and dressed in style. In its home in the south of France you will find baby broad beans and thin slivers of baby artichokes, cooked or raw, and often anchovies not tuna. French beans, which are available all the year round, are now commonly used, broad beans, because they're seasonal, appear less often.

Good-quality canned tuna - look for ventreche or ventresca, the French and Italian terms for the fatty belly - will do. But I'd suggest using fresh tuna for a warm and more luxurious version.

1 garlic clove, peeled
150g (podded weight) young broad beans or French beans, cooked in boiling salted water until tender
4 ripe plum tomatoes, skinned and quartered
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
12 good quality canned anchovies in olive oil
24 small Niçoise olives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp tarragon vinegar
2 soft-boiled eggs, shelled and halved or f
12 quails eggs, lightly boiled for 2 minutes and shelled
300g good-quality canned or freshly cooked tuna (see page 32), flaked into large chunks

To cook fresh tuna, put it a pan with one peeled and sliced clove of garlic, 12 tsp fennel seeds, a pinch of black peppercorns, and a few sprigs of thyme. Cover with olive oil, add 1 tsp salt and bring the the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Leave in the oil.

Rub the inside of a large bowl with the garlic. Add the beans, plum tomatoes, spring onions, anchovies (whole or halved) and olives. Season with salt and pepper, add two thirds each of the oil and vinegar, and mix well.

Put the eggs and tuna on top and gently mix in, trying not to break up the eggs, then spoon over the rest of the oil and vinegar.

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