I'm pretty useless at planning ahead when it comes to food. I like to do a bigger shop on Sundays but mainly to take the car and pick up bottles of carbonated water and other liquid items that aren't too bus friendly. When it comes to planning food ahead though I try not to bother. I spend a lot of time each day thinking what to eat and it will change frequently over the course of the day, let alone between a big shop at the weekend and a Thursday evening. I know what I want and I want it now, but will probably want something different in two hours time.
Luckily for me, well i look at it that way anyway, I have to walk past a Sainsbury between my office and the tube station so I can plan what I want to eat during the day then pop in and get the ingredients quickly on the way home. Earlier this week I was thinking what to eat so was having a little run through of what was in the fridge that needed using up: some salad leaves, some tomatoes, some sugar snap peas and a couple of eggs I'd hardboiled on Saturday because it was their use by date. It may call for green beans normally but the first thing that sprang to mind was the old faithful salade nicoise, just changing the beans for sugar snaps and slapping a lump of seared tuna on top. I knew I had anchovies at home too so all I needed was some new potatoes and a lump of tuna and maybe some bread to bulk it up a bit.
My heart was now set on this so I popped into Sainos, found loose new potatoes complete with dirt, some mini plum tomatoes (the big tomatoes can get used another day), a still warm baguette and then, aargh, no tuna. I took the gamble that Marks and Spencer (oh, yeah, there's one of those in the tube station too) would have some and bought the rest. Alas when I got to M&S all they had was a single pack of tuna steaks left which looked a bit white-bits-between-the-layers heavy - we'd gone too far to pull out now though so I cracked on.
This isn't something I follow a recipe for but here's what I used that night, for two people:
Half a bag of mixed leaves, maybe 80gr
12 mini-plum tomatoes
6 new potatoes
12 kalamata olives
2 tuna steaks
1 tin of anchovies, drained (I used some of the oil to rub onto the tuna steaks)
1/2 small red onion
100gr sugar snaps
Simmer the eggs for maybe 6 minutes, this should be hard but still softish for medium, room temp eggs.
Slice potatoes to a cm or so thick and simmer till done, maybe 10 minutes. Chuck in the sugar snaps for the last 3 minutes.
Sear the tuna, I used a hot griddle pan and gave it 1 minute a side.
I don't want it hot, or very cooked - you may want it different. Once
cooked slice it against (perpendicular to) the grain.
Arrange the salad leaves on each plate then scatter over the anchovies (halved), tomatoes (halved), red onion (thinly sliced), olives (pitted) and the still warm spuds, sugarsnaps and quartered eggs. My eggs had been boiled 3 days previously and when I cut into them I realised they were on the very soft side and now three days out of date, they smelt fine though so I cracked on and have had no ill effects.
Lay the tuna on top, all artfully spread in a line, and then drizzle with a simple dressing, I tend to whisk a little red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar into some extra virgin olive oil, with a little S&P and use that.
I was worried that the white bits in the tuna would be tough but they were surprisngly not and I didn't really notice they were there. There is such a good combination and range of flavours in this salad that it's a pleasure to eat: starchy potatoes, salty olives and anchovies, sweet tomatoes, tangy onions, meaty tuna and the bitter and peppery bite of the various leaves. It's a classic for a reason.