Grilled Tuna Nicoise

by Cinda Chavich

If you don’t have a tuna loin, you can use good-quality canned albacore for this classic dish. St. Jean’sCannery in Nanaimo packs fresh tuna by hand before canning — a true artisan product with exceptional flavour.

• lb small new red or yellow fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and halved (or quartered if large)

• 2 cups fresh green beans, stems removed

• 1 lb albacore tuna loin, cut into four portions

• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper• 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

• 1/2 cup niçoise or other small black olives

Basil vinaigrette:

• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

• 1 teaspoon lemon zest

• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 cup fresh basil leaves (or 1 tablespoon pesto)

• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

To make the vinaigrette, in a blender, combine the lemon juice, zest, mustard, garlic, salt and basil and whirl until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the oil. Whirl in a splash more oil or water if the dressing is too thick. Place half of the dressing in a bowl and refrigerate the rest.

Put a steamer basket in a large saucepan and add about 2 inches (5 cm) of water. Put the potatoes in the steamer basket and steam until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the warm potatoes to the dressing in the bowl; toss.

Add the green beans to the steamer and steam until just barely tender, about 2 minutes. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Place in the bowl and add a spoonful of the reserved dressing, tossing to coat.

Rub the tuna with olive oil and season on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a grill to high and cook tuna quickly, a minute per side at most, until lightly charred, but still rare at the centre.Remove from heat and set aside to rest, then cut each piece into three thick slices.

To serve, arrange potatoes and beans on four individual plates. Top each with grilled tuna, scatter tomatoes and olives around the plate, and drizzle with reserved vinaigrette.

Serves 4