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I was in a meeting the other day at the office, when my friend Issy pulled out a take-out box from the office cafeteria and excused herself. "I'm starving," she said. "I just need to have some lunch!"
There are some meals at my office cafeteria that I look forward to (veggie dumplings and pickled vegetables are worth scheduling meetings around), but generally, I'm pretty jaded. Or I was. Until Issy opened up the paper box to reveal a gorgeous spread: seared tuna steak, new potatoes, green beans, and a lemon wedge. The perfect summer meal. Evocative of French seasides with striped umbrellas and big sailboats. Suddenly, my panini from around the corner began to pale into oozy, woozy insignificance. I had such overwhelming food envy that I went home, bought all the ingredients, and recreated it for dinner.
This dish is inspired by a Niçoise salad, but it gets rid of all the salad parts and leaves the essentials. Fresh tuna, crusted in sea salt and herbes de Provence, seared for just three minutes in olive oil until barely cooked through. Tender crisp haricots verts. Creamy baby new potatoes. Roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine. All tossed in a garlic- and lemon-infused warm olive oil and butter sauce, littered with shreds of fresh basil and torn parsley. Served warm, it's light and bright, but also exceptionally flavorful and a little bit decadent from the sauce. It's the perfect summer meal—a real feast, but light enough so that you don't fall asleep in the afternoon at the office. You may, however, daydream about places you'd rather be. St. Tropez. Cannes. Antibes. St. Jean Cap Ferrat. Some things can't be helped.