Mediterranean Tuna Salad w/ Dijon Mustard, Lemon & Herb Vinaigrette

I woke up this Thursday morning to ice and snow all over my neighborhood.  It is March, and we are getting snow in Dallas!  Does anyone else think this sounds ludicrous?  Regardless of how silly it sounds, I am very happy for it, as I get to enjoy a delicious cup or two of Earl Grey, while working from home.  Normally, I am rushing out the door without any coffee or tea … or breakfast for that matter.  Looking outside of our uptown condo this beautiful cold morning, I snapped a few pictures to share.

After taking care of a few things via phone, I decided to get back to business … and pleasure.  I turned on my work and my personal computers in an attempt to get some work done on both fronts, while enjoying some much needed Caffeine.  Instead of a wholesome breakfast, I opted to have an early lunch.  And what I wanted to do on this cold day was to be transported to the beautiful Mediterranean.

MEDITERRANEAN TUNA SALAD WITH DIJON MUSTARD, LEMON, AND HERB VINAIGRETTE

1 lb French Green Beans – cleaned
1 red Bell Pepper – roasted
4 oz Spanish or Italian Tuna in olive oil
1/3 cup Niçoise Olives
1/2 tablespoon Mint – finely chopped

VINAIGRETTE

1/2 Shallot – finely diced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
2 Lemons – zested
1 sprig fresh Thyme – finely chopped
1 sprig fresh Oregano – finely chopped
1 tablespoon Italian Parsley – finely chopped
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
10 Pepper grinds

Start by cleaning the French green beans and blanching them in heavily salted water.  Basically, you bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil, add about 1/4 cup of kosher salt, then add the cleaned green beans, and let them blanch for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove the green beans from the hot water and into an ice water bath.  This method serves to achieve two things, it stops the cooking process and keeps their dark green color.  After about 5 to 10 minutes in the ice water, remove the green beans and dry them.  I use a salad spinner for this task, followed by a paper towel or two to remove the last bit of moisture.

As I would rather roast my own peppers, place the red bell pepper directly over a burner, and let the skin char.  Continue to turn it to get an even char on all sides.  Immediately, place the charred pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 5 minutes.  This will continue to steam the pepper and will make peeling it very easy.  Cut the pepper open and deseed it.  You may rinse the pepper to remove all the leftover charred skin and seeds; however, I prefer to NOT rinse it, as to keep its charred flavor more concentrated.  Dice the roasted pepper into one inch cubes and leave to the side.  If you would like to avoid this task, you may want to buy already roasted and jarred peppers at your local grocery store.

For the vinaigrette, start by zesting two large lemons and placing the zest, salt, pepper, and both the Dijon and grainy mustard in a small bowl.  Finely dice the shallot, and add it to the bowl.  Finely chop the thyme, oregano, and parsley, and add them to the bowl.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Leave the vinaigrette on the side until you plate the salad.

I always use lemon juice with any and all fish and seafood.  However, as to keep the beautifully deep green French green beans from discoloring, I have used only the zest to get the citrusy flavor in this pseudo-vinaigrette.  

Now that you are ready to plate your salad, begin by placing the the green beans on the desired serving plate.  Top the green beans with the roasted pepper, followed by the tuna and olives.  Make sure you drain the tuna from the oil it is packed in.  You may choose to remove the pits from your olives or keep them.  Though I always buy olives with the pits still in them for better flavor, I chose to remove them for this salad.  Chiffonade the mint — cut it into long strips.  Top the salad with the vinaigrette by spooning it on top, and sprinkle the mint for a finishing touch.  You may serve this delicious Mediterranean salad with a crusty baguette, or you may dive in as is.  Bon appétit!


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