Monday, April 29, 2013

Provençal Salad with Tuna and White Beans

Palm Sunday is one of the two days during Great Lent when we can eat fish.  Our parish (and I think many others) has a potluck that day.  My favorite thing to make and bring is a Provençal Salad with Tuna and White Beans from the Chic Simple Cooking book.  My sister Martha gave me this book for my 23rd birthday.  Before getting my own copy, I had been checking a copy of this book out of the library regularly!  It's a great basic cookbook with hints of gourmet.  None of the recipes are complicated, but focus on putting the right ingredients together for perfect flavor.  The book has a list of seasonal menus in the back (with wine pairings) which I often consult.  So, without further ado, here is the recipe of the day:

Provençal Salad with Tuna and White Beans
From Chic Simple Cooking

2 tsp. olive oil
1 leek, julienned, or Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, julienned
2 carrots, julienned
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 19-ounce can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup water, vegetable stock, or fish stock
1 fresh tuna steak (about 1 pound), 1-1½ inches thick
2-4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1-2 tomatoes, diced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or basil
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add 1 tsp. of olive oil.  Add the leek or onion, celery, carrots, bay leaf, and thyme, and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the beans and water or stock and cook about 5 minutes, or until the beans are soft and heated through.
  2. Remove the bay leaf.  Scoop the vegetables and beans into a large serving dish.
  3. In the same pan, heath the remaining teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat and add the tune.  Cook for about 5 minutes per side or until desired doneness.
  4. Cut the tuna into large chunks and arrange them on top of the bean mixture.  Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, and parsley or basil.
Serve at room temperature.  Serves 4.

I tripled the recipe for church and had to make a major substitution.  I couldn't find tuna steaks this year, so I ended up getting halibut steak.  The guy at the fish counter told me he thought it'd be fine, but honestly, it wasn't.  Tuna steak has a meaty texture and could almost pass as a pork chop.  The halibut, on the other hand, was really flaky.  It tasted fine, but didn't have the texture that it really wonderful in this salad.  Next year, I will plan more in advance and order tuna steaks if I have to.  They are worth it!

The day before Palm Sunday (Lazarus Saturday) is a caviar day... a day when the church calendar officially recommends (well, allows) that you eat caviar (and it's a wine day too)!  We love taramosalata so that is our usual Lazarus Saturday treat.  On the way home from church, we first stopped by Bridgehead Coffee with a friend, then the Italian grocery store to pick up the taramosalata.  The Italian shop also carries Art-Is-In bread which is one of my favorites and has a wonderful olive bar.  So, we came home and had a wonderful, simple lunch.  It was so delicious!  What a nice little feast!

In addition to the Great Feast of Palm Sunday, we had another joyous occasion yesterday - the baptism of our friends' new baby, Anna.  I was very honored to be her Godmother.  May God grant her many, many blessed years!
Big sister, Dora, Liza, and me before the baptism


elizabeth said...

yay! wonderful food! many years to you as the Godmother of this little one! :)

Mary said...

Thank you, Elizabeth! :)

Martha said...

I remember that cookbook now, with a cast iron pan on the front:
That tuna and beans with tomatoes looks divine. And we didn't have any caviar on Lazarus Saturday, but I wish we had... Your plate with it slathered on the thick bread and olives look so nice! What a beautiful family picture from the baptism! Liza looks so big!!!