April 18, 2005 2:18 AM | By Adam Roberts | 6 Comments

Fancy Salad with Tuna

There is a skill I should have by now that I'm afraid I don't: it's the ability to go food shopping, see the ingredients, purchase what's fresh and create a meal from that.

Instead, I almost always (99% of the time) go home, find a recipe and go shopping with the recipe in hand. This has its plusses: it saves time, it saves money. You know what you're going for and you get it.

The draw back is you're not really shopping seasonally; you're not studying the produce and finding what's freshest, what looks the best. So tonight I did just that---well sort of. I was at Citarella and I saw Bibb lettuce. I remembered the Bouchon Cookbook has a Bibb Lettuce salad---I had no idea what went in it, but I knew there was a homemade vinaigrette that looked tasty. I was excited to make that.

So I bought the bibb lettuce. Then I saw French string beans and radishes. This wasn't in the Bouchon picture in my head---I just thought that would go well together. String beans and radishes say spring, they say France, they say mature ingreident-based shopping! So I bought them.

For protein, I decided (in my head) I'd use the can of oil-packed tuna I bought a while back.

When I got home I looked up the Bouchon salad recipe. Egads! His salad requires all these herbs I didn't buy. If I hadn't matured into an ingredient-based shopper like I did, I would have been heart-broken. But I stayed strong. I made his vinaigrette.

I have to say this vinaigrette is miraculous. There are three ingredients. You put 1/4 cup of dijon mustard and 1/2 cup red wine vinegar in the food processor. Pulse for 15 seconds. (Cover the hole at the top so it doesn't spray.) Then pour 1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil (or Canola oil) into a measuring glass. While the food processor is one drizzle 1/2 a cup of the oil slowly into the tube. You will get this:

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Then, drizzle the rest in and whisk furiously while you do it. The dressing gets creamy and thick---it's a true emulsification. And it bursts with flavor: only three ingredients!

So I blanched my french string beans (pot of boiling salted water---put them in for less than 2 minutes and shocked them in ice water). Washed my bibb lettuce, my radishes, and cut them, tore them, sliced them, tossed in the dressing and assembled with the tuna. Here is my ingredient based dinner:

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Looks nice, hm? Ok, that tuna looks a tiny bit like cat food. At least Lolita thought so: she went crazy for it. But I knew better. Or did I?

I am proud of this dinner. It may seem small but for me it's an accomplishment. No recipe (except for the dressing) this dinner is ALL ME. I'm one huge step closer to being an Iron Chef... or at least a Lesser Metal Chef. What is a lesser metal? Bronze? Copper? I'm the Copper Chef. Take that, Morimoto.

6 Comments

That looks great - your own version of salad nicoise! A question about the dressing - do you pour the dressing out of the food processor once you've added the 1/2 cup of olive oil or do you actually whisk while it's still in the bowl?

Pour it out, Teri. Sorry--I forgot to mention that!

That is a Julia Child-worthy composed salad, AG, bravo! Amanda Hesser weeps with envy at your spontaneity! :P

I'm hopeless at cooking without a recipe, so I must say congratulations! And it looks fantastic, except for the tuna, but only because I'm not a tuna fan!

Yay! Doesn't cooking this way just make you feel like you've really arrived as a cook? It always does for me, and then I read something by someone who really knows how to cook... and I'm plunged into moping over my culinary mediocrity all over again. Okay, not really, but sort of.

That dressing sounds really fantastic. I will try it!

Excellent first effort! You could have just forked the tuna around a bit to make it look a little less cat-foody. You know...like when you use jellied cranberries if you break them up with a spoon a bit then you aren't distracted by the imprints caused by the can?
Start experimenting with some pasta and fresh veggies...you'll find it gets easier and easier each time you do it.

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