French in a Flash: Grilled Rare Tuna Salad with Basil-Tapenade Vinaigrette

French In A Flash

Quick and easy recipes that prove that great French food doesn't require a tall hat and a fancy kitchen.


[Photograph: Kerry Saretsky]

Next week is my favorite week of the year: my annual family trip to Provence. Every year it's a different town—some by the sea, some tucked into the little mountains. But there's always the same punch flavors of olives, tomatoes, garlic, and basil.

Salade Niçoise is the requisite seaside order for hot days when the sun is beating down. But, as perfect as it is to order when you're out, it's a pain to make at home. I make this version when I want to evoke the flavors of Provence—and the rocky beaches, cliff-tossed breezes, and mile-high blue skies—without having to boil eggs, potatoes, and green beans. I sear tuna crusted in herbes de Provence on the grill until it's rare, thinly slice it, and fan it out over a delicate bed of finely sliced tomatoes and silky butter lettuce. A quick dressing of basil, olive oil, vinegar, and black olive tapenade evokes all the traditional flavors. And, to gild the lily, it's crowned with fried (or fresh) capers instead of croutons.

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