When I was growing up, my family always had oil-packed tuna in the pantry. It was a special treat on backpacking trips, too, right out of the can! But as Americans began to grow wary of high-fat diets in the 1980s, oil-packed made way for water-packed.
As more Americans are again embracing the inclusion of good fats in our diets, the grocery store shelves are reflecting that shift with a resurgence of olive-oil-packed cans of tuna.
I buy pole- and line-caught tuna when I can, because those fisheries support small-boat businesses and small-town fleets. I pay a little more for it, but I’m comfortable paying a premium to support working American families. I make my trade-offs elsewhere.
This salad is made with Trader Joe’s oil-packed yellowfin tuna, but I’ve used a variety of oil-packed tuna species — albacore, skipjack, bigeye. Use your favorite, packed in oil or water, or go wild and sear a tuna steak for a more traditional Niçoise salad. What I like about this version is its simplicity for a quick weeknight meal.
2 6-ounce cans oil-packed tuna
1 box (5 ounces) field greens (I use Olivia’s Organics spring mix)
1/2 pound green beans or haricots vert
1 pound new potatoes
4-6 eggs, boiled
16-24 Niçoise, calamata and/or castelvetrano olives
1/2 pound grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced into bite sizes
Fresh herbs to taste
Anchovy fillets (optional)
Crisp-cooked bacon, chopped fine (optional)
Put potatoes whole into a medium pot and cover with water (if they are of varying sizes, cut the larger ones into pieces about the size of the smaller whole potatoes). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook until just fork tender. Drain, drizzle with white vinegar, and set aside to cool.
Rinse and trim the green beans and steam until al dente, then set aside to cool. Peel and slice the boiled eggs into quarters. To ensure an easy-to-peel egg, before boiling, gently insert the head of a (clean) push pin into one end of the egg, being careful not to puncture the inner membrane.
Slice tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Rinse and dry greens, then toss lightly in red wine vinaigrette (recipe below).
Divide greens evenly onto four large plates or salad bowls. Scoop tuna from cans with a fork onto the center of the greens, then add remaining ingredients. Serve with vinaigrette.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon prepared grainy or Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon mayonnaise (optional)
2-4 anchovy fillets, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine vinegar, shallot and garlic in a blender and blend thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and blend again. Sample and amend to your taste. The mayonnaise is optional but will help prevent the separation of oil and vinegar. You may also sub white, cider or balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar.