I like to make enough for leftovers so that we can enjoy Pan Bagnat the next day, a traditional French sandwich made of French bread and salade Niçoise. To prepare, chop any leftover ingredients into bite-size pieces and mix them together, adding more dressing and tuna if needed, and refrigerate for one day. When ready to serve, use your hands to hollow out the inside of the French bread, fill with the salad mix and enjoy. C’est magnifique!
1 lb. baby potatoes (use variety of purple, red, gold if available)
4 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and quarterd
6 to 8 oz. fresh green beans, blanched (a large handful)
3 medium-large tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 English cucumber, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
2 5-oz. cans wild skipjack light tuna, drained
– slice purple potatoes into half-inch rounds; red and gold can be quartered
¼ cup spring onions (scallions), sliced thinly on the bias
1 cup good black olives, pitted
Garlic Dijon Dressing
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with at least two inches of water. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt and cook over medium-high heat until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes if using baby potatoes; longer if larger.
Remove and rinse with cold water to stop cooking set aside to cool. Once cooled, slice purple potatoes into ½-inch rounds; red and gold can be quartered.
As the potatoes cook, place the eggs in another pot and cover with at least an inch of cold water. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes for firm yet creamy yolks, 15 minutes for very firm yolks.
Save the boiling water for blanching the green beans. Fill a bowl with ice water and use a slotted spoon to transfer eggs to cold water for at least one minute to stop cooking. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to one week.
For easy peeling, simply place an egg in a glass and cover with about an inch of water. Cover the top of the glass with one hand, and shake glass vigorously from side to side for about 10 seconds. The peel will easily slip off once cracked.
Bring the pot of water back to a boil, add 2 tablespoons kosher salt and place the green beans and blanch in boiling water for two minutes. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with ice and water; set aside.
After two minutes, taste a bean – it should feel tender-crisp, not too hard or too soft. If still hard, continue blanching for one more minute. Remove beans and transfer immediately to ice water until cool, at least one minute. Drain beans and pat dry: can be refrigerated overnight until ready to use.
On a large platter, colorfully arrange each ingredient by group: Purple potatoes work beautifully next to hard-boiled eggs, with bright green beans on the opposite side. Fill in remaining area with rest of ingredients, paying close attention to color and size of each ingredient. Drizzle generously with Garlic Dijon Dressing.
To make Pan Bagnat: Chop up remaining ingredients and toss together with more tuna and dressing as desired. Refrigerate up to one day.
Use your hands to scoop out the inside from a loaf of French bread (whole wheat or white). Brush insides with more dressing and fill with Niçoise mixture.