"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Perfect End

Looking out at the gray drizzling day, I can't help but worry that summer may not arrive after all.  Sure, there hints, oh-so-subtle hints, that it's just around the corner.  School is out.  Plans are being made to fill the now just slightly freer days with outdoor fun.  Heck, even the weather felt full of the promise of summer yesterday.  So, instead of dwelling on the (not atypical) rain today, let's chat about yesterday's goodness.  Particularly, dinner.

After a busy Friday, filled with saying goodbye to school for the summer, celebrating the (presumed) commencement of summer, and errand running for Father's Day, a spontaneous sort (my favorite sort) of gathering took place with friends, that included margaritas, toasts to the sunshine, and the usual amount of side-splitting laughter.  Perfect.  

And of course the good times carried on well past a reasonable (ie, school night, kid-friendly) dinner time.  But hey!  It's summer.  No school.  And these kids can surely be counted as more cultural for staying up a little later, enjoying good food and company, right?  (Guilt resolved.)

From the Farmer's Market, I had some lovely asparagus, and green beans.  The pantry revealed some tinned tuna in olive oil.  And a quick think, and perusal of the cookbook shelf had me reaching for my treasured copy of My French Kitchen, by Joanne Harris (hooray!), and Fran Warde.

The recipe for Warm Tuna and Potato Salad calls for anchovies, but I was fresh out (ha), but I did have some anchovy paste in the fridge, so I added a little squirt to the dressing.  The other alterations I made to the recipe were to add asparagus, because, well, yum.  I replaced one tablespoon of the white wine vinegar with lemon juice, and I also reduced the 2/3 cup olive oil, for the dressing, because I prefer the vinaigrette to have some zing.  And perhaps because maybe, ugh, swimsuits are going to be involved soon.  Sigh.

So, here you go.  Easy as anything.  Super filling, and pretty darn healthy.  Serve it up with a nice, crusty baguette of course, a la Francaise.

Warm Tuna and Potato Salad - adapted from My French Kitchen
 - serves 4 to 6

For the dressing:
1 or 2 small shallots, minced
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbs grainy dijon mustard
1/2 tsp anchovy paste (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil (or more if desired)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the salad:
1 lb small red skinned potatoes (or white, something that holds its shape, not russet)
6 oz (or a couple large handfuls) haricots verts, or thin green beans, trimmed
8 oz cherry tomatoes
6 oz tuna in olive oil, drained
a few good handfuls of fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together, except for the olive oil.  Once those are combined, add the olive oil in a steady stream, while you whisk it in.  Alternatively, add all dressing ingredients to a jar, and shake vigorously.

Gently cook the potatoes in their skins in a saucepan of lightly salted water (1/2 -1 Tbs sea salt), for about 20 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife, but before their skins split.  Drain the potatoes, cut in halves or quarters depending on their size, and place them in a large salad bowl, or platter.  Pour the 2/3 of the dressing over the warm potatoes, and toss to coat.

Plunge the green beans into lightly salted boiling water (save a pan, and some time, and reuse the potato water), and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain well, and add warm to the dressed potatoes.

Place the asparagus on one side of a rimmed baking sheet, and the cherry tomatoes on the other, and drizzle a bit of olive oil over them, tossing to coat, and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 10 minutes, then remove the tomatoes, and add them to the potatoes and green beans.  Continue roasting the asparagus (increasing the heat to 425 if need be), for another 5 - 10 minutes, until fork tender, then add to the salad as well.

Pour the last of the dressing over the salad, and mix gently to distribute evenly.  Flake the tuna over the top, and tear the basil, and scatter it over the salad. Serve at once, while still warm.

Oh, lovely.

Perfect end to a perfect day.

Have a great weekend.

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