There are hundreds of versions of this salad in Spain, where it’s a cafe standard. Some are assembled with just tuna, tomatoes, olives, and onions, with olive oil as the dressing, others with corn or carrots in the mix. Sometimes the salad comes on a bed of greens with boiled potatoes dressed with oil, and hard-cooked eggs. Often there’s a vinaigrette poured onto the canned fish and vegetables, or you’re given bottles of oil and vinegar to make your own.
Here, we include green beans, because they’re quite nice this time of year, along with sweet onion, tomatoes, potatoes, hard-cooked eggs, and olives. It’s similar to the French salade Nicoise, except without anchovies and capers. Buy good tuna in olive oil and don’t drain it; tip it into a bowl and sprinkle with vinegar to make a dressing with the oil in the can. Steam golden potatoes and sprinkle them with vinegar and salt while they’re hot to flavor them. Whisk a vinaigrette and pour it over the salad before you add halved eggs. Arrange all the components on the salad in threes — three clusters of potatoes, three of beans, three of tuna, and so on — until it looks like a wildflower garden. It will become your summer standby.
Spanish tuna salad
(Ensalada mixta con atun)
|1||pound green beans, trimmed|
|4||Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes (slightly smaller than tennis balls), unpeeled and thickly sliced|
|7||tablespoons white wine vinegar|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|2||cans tuna in oil, tipped into a bowl but not drained|
|1||heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard|
|⅓||cup olive oil|
|1||pint cherry tomatoes|
|½||large sweet onion, thinly sliced|
|½||cup black or green olives|
1. For the beans: Bring a saucepan fitted with a steamer insert and several inches of water to a boil. Add the beans, cover, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the beans are bright green, tender, and still crisp. With tongs, remove them from the saucepan and transfer to a bowl of very cold water. Add more tap water to the bowl until the beans are cold. Drain on paper towels and pat dry.
2. For the potatoes: Add more water to the saucepan so it comes up to the level of the steamer. Bring to a boil, add the potatoes, cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer. With a large spoon, transfer the potatoes to bowl. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and salt.
3. For the tuna: Sprinkle the tuna with 2 tablespoons of the vinegar.
4. For the eggs: Empty the saucepan and fill it with several inches of water. Bring to a boil and add the eggs. Cook for 10 minutes exactly, then transfer the eggs to a bowl of very cold water. Crack each egg with the back of a spoon and remove a piece of shell on each. Let cold tap water run into the bowl until the eggs are cold. Peel completely and dry with paper towels; halve horizontally.
5. For the vinaigrette: In a bowl, whisk the remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar, salt, pepper, and mustard. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
6. For the cherry tomatoes: Halve the cherry tomatoes and transfer to a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette.
7. On a large platter, arrange three clusters of potatoes; three clusters of green beans, and three clusters of tuna. Add tomatoes here and there, then tuck in onion slices and olives. Sprinkle the salad with the remaining vinaigrette. Tuck the eggs into the vegetables. Sprinkle the salad with salt. Serve with crusty bread. Sheryl JulianSheryl Julian can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.