French in a Flash: Niçoise Tuna Melts

RECIPE: Niçoise Tuna Melts
Niçoise Tuna Melt

Niçoise Tuna Melt

The Niçoise salad is such a classic, I can’t seem to stop reinventing it.  I was actually inspired to make this sandwich while thumbing through Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, and reading about her tuna melt history at Jackson Hole—a chain of diners with which every New Yorker will be very familiar.  On the back of her book is a picture of a Niçoise salad, and the light bulb above my head went off.

I start with a good crusty, chewy baguette, charred on the grill, and rubbed with the number one ingredient of Provence: garlic.  Then, a black olive tartare sauce, made from mayonnaise (of course), tapenade, Dijon mustard, vinegar, anchovy paste and chunks of cornichons, Niçoise olives, shallots, and parsley.  On top of that, handfuls of arugula and sweet-tart oven-roasted tomatoes.  The crowning glory is sliced herbes de Provence-rubbed rare-seared tuna steak, covered in a blanket of melted Gruyère cheese.  What could be better?  I think nothing.

Excerpted from my weekly column “French in a Flash” on Serious Eats.  Click HERE for this post.

Niçoise Tuna Melts
serves 4

Niçoise Tuna MeltINGREDIENTS

  • 1 1-pound tuna steak

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • 1/2 baguette, halved horizontally

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 2 teaspoons black olive tapenade

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste

  • 3 cornchions, finely diced

  • 16 Niçoise olives, chopped

  • 1/2 shallot, finely diced

  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 3 1/2 ounces Gruyère, sliced thinly on a mandoline into about 12 slices

  • 1 cup baby arugula

  • 1/2 cup oven-dried tomatoes


Preheat the broiler.  Preheat the indoor or outdoor grill to its highest setting.

Rub the tuna all over with the olive oil, and season it liberally with dried herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper.  Sear the tuna on the grill until it’s cooked to your desired doneness.  I sear 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare.  Set the tuna aside to rest.

While the tuna is grilling, place the baguette, flat cut side down on the grill, just until it’s lightly toasted.  Slice the edge off the garlic clove, and rub the hot bread with the cut side of the garlic.  Then, cut each piece of baguette in half, so you have 4 pieces for 4 open-faced sandwiches.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, tapenade, mustard, vinegar or lemon juice, anchovy paste, cornichons, olives, shallot, parsley, and salt and pepper.

Slice the tuna across the grain into 1/2-inch slices.  You should get about 12 slices.  Fan out the slices of tuna on a baking sheet in stacks of three, and cover each stack with a quarter of the Gruyère.  Sit the tuna right under the broiler just until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.  Set aside.

Divide the black olive tartare sauce between the 4 pieces of baguette.  Then, divide out the arugula and roasted tomatoes among the 4 sandwiches.  Then, use a spatula to lift each tuna and cheese stack on top of a sandwich.  Once all 4 sandwiches are assembled, serve right away!  Citron pressé is the perfect way to wash it all down!

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series

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