Bowl Tuna Salad

Nathalie Dupree prepares a Nicoise-style summer salad with fresh vegetables and tuna fish. (Chris Hanclosky/Staff)

Bowl Tuna Salad

Serves 2 to 4

Taking the ingredients from a classic salade Nicoise and turning them into a bowl, then adding a few Southern ingredients, makes a delicious light lunch or supper. It's particularly advantageous when there are dribs and drabs of ingredients in the refrigerator, some already cooked, that can be added. Including variously shaped and colored ingredients makes for an enticing meal.

Tuna fish comes in a variety of cans and jars, each a bit different in quality and packing liquid. Some is better drained and a few are packed in a tasty oil that contributes to the salad.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar

5 tablespoons olive oil

6 to 8 ounces tuna, canned or jarred

Salt

Freshly grated pepper

Chopped fresh herbs (optional)

6 to 8 ounces green beans, tipped, tailed and cooked, preferably roasted

6 to 8 ounces okra, sliced horizontally and roasted (optional)

1 cucumber, peeled if skins are waxed, sliced 1/8 inch thick

1 to 2 ripe tomatoes, in wedges

1 lemon, juice and grated peel (no white attached)

Anchovies, drained (optional)

Black olives, pit removed and sliced in half

6 to 8 ounces small potatoes, cooked (optional)

Directions

To make a salad dressing, whisk together the mustard, vinegar and oil in a small bowl and set aside.

Taste and drain the tuna if necessary. Season the ingredients with salt and pepper and optional fresh herbs after tasting the tuna for saltiness. Arrange the green beans and okra along the sides of a bowl. Divide sliced cucumber in two and arrange half on each side of the bowl. Divide the tomato wedges in two and arrange on either side of the bowl. Add any of the optional ingredients except anchovies and olives, which should be on top. Add the tuna fish to the top center of the bowl. Add lemon juice and follow with lemon rind, olives and anchovies, if any, on top. Add the salad dressing prepared above.

Variations

  • Omit the beans, and add fresh halved figs, peach wedges, pineapple chunks or other fresh fruit.
  • Substitute cooked grouper or other fish for the tuna.
  • Substitute cooked peas for the green beans.
  • For a pretty variation, make a lattice of the anchovies and put the olives in the lattice diamonds. Surround with the tomatoes, rounded sides up. Brush the tomatoes with the dressing and spoon the remaining dressing over the entire salad. Garnish with more of the herbs, if desired.

Nathalie Dupree is the author of 14 cookbooks, including the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through Nathaliedupree.com.