This classic French salad is perfect for lunch or a light dinner. The real secret to this dish is dressing each component separately – this way, the potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, and eggs are all seasoned perfectly. Try to find Italian or Spanish jarred or canned tuna in olive oil – it’s a little expensive, but it’s worth it. Seared fresh tuna would also be nice in place of the canned.
For the Vinaigrette
1/4 cup good-quality red or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Salt and pepper
For the Salad
3/4 pound small potatoes (about 6), such as Yukon golds
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
1/2 pound grape or cherry tomatoes (assorted colors are nice), halved
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
1 small head Boston lettuce, washed and separated (or substitute red leaf or young romaine)
1 six-ounce jar of tuna packed in olive oil
15-20 olives, pitted (preferably niçoise olives)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Make the Vinaigrette
- Place the smashed garlic cloves and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Set aside to steep while you prepare the other ingredients for the salad.
- Remove the garlic cloves and discard. While whisking, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the vinegar, whisking until an emulsion has formed. Season with freshly ground pepper, and additional salt if necessary.
Prepare the Salad Ingredients and Assemble the Salad
- Cook the potatoes in their skins: in a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes in cold water and simmer over medium heat until they are very tender when pierced with a paring knife. (This may take up to 30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.) Cool the potatoes and chop into large chunks, or quarter. Set aside to cool completely.
- Cook the green beans by dropping them into boiled, salted water. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the beans are tender but still with a little bite. Plunge the beans into ice water to stop the cooking. Cut the beans in half on the bias if they are long. Set aside.
- Drain the tuna and gently break up into chunks.
- Dress the salad greens, green beans, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, and potatoes separately, gently tossing each ingredient in the prepared vinaigrette. Lightly salt the eggs, potatoes, and tomatoes.
- Lay the dressed salad greens on a large platter. Put the drained tuna in the center of the platter, and arrange the other ingredients in pretty piles all around the tuna. Sprinkle with the olives.
- Drizzle the salad with additional vinaigrette and finish with a grinding of black pepper.