Joanne Harris’ My French Kitchen (co-written by Fran Warde) is meant to be a supplement to her novels set in France, among the most famous, Chocolat, and the more stirring, Five Quarters of the Orange. While I have enjoyed reading these novels immensely, I find her cookbook far more valuable and use it as my “go to” for French cuisine. All the classics are there: Fondue, Coq au Vin, Quiche Lorraine, etc. However, there are many that aren’t so classic, like Nipples of Venus (!), or “classic with a twist,” like this Warm Tuna and Potato Salad. At first glance, it appears similar to a Salade Niçoise, a very popular salad of tuna, anchovies, green beans, hard-boiled eggs and black olives found in practically every cafe in France. That salad is light and refreshing, and can at times (though I’m a fan), be a bit boring. This particular salad is a whole different story. Some of the ingredients are the same (tune, tomatoes, green beans), but the preparation is oh so different and really packs a surprisingly tasty punch with its dressing of shallots, grainy mustard and white wine vinegar. Roasting the tomatoes instead of leaving them raw also adds to the depth of flavor. Although Joanne claims this salad serves 6, I find it a stretch to even serve 3!
Adapted from My French Kitchen, Joanne Harris and Fran Warde (2003)
for the dressing
2 shallots finely chopped
3 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
2 Tbsp. grainy mustard (such as Meaux)
sea salt to taste (about a tsp.)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 1/2 a tsp.)
1/3 c. + 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Mix all ingredients in a jar and shake well. Shake again before dressing the salad.
for the salad
1 pound small white potatoes
6 oz. thin cut green beans
1 pint cherry tomatoes (or more if you like tomatoes)
2 cans tuna in olive oil, drained
6 anchovies, sliced lengthwise into this strips
1 bunch basil (or as much as you have)
First bring a pot of lightly salted water to a simmer and preheat the oven to 400º. Toss the cherry tomatoes in a small drizzle of olive and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. When they are done, just turn off the oven and leave them there until ready to add to the salad.
Add the potatoes to the simmering water and cook gently for 20 minutes. Before draining, make sure the potatoes are tender by poking with a fork. Drain and allow to cool until you can handle them. Slice them in half and add to a large salad bowl. Then add the dressing so that it can soak into the warm potatoes.
While the potatoes are cooking, trim the green beans and make the dressing. As soon as the potatoes come out, fill the pan again with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Boil the green beans for 2-3 minutes. Once they are tender but still green, drain and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Dry them a bit with a paper towel and add to the potatoes. Finally, add the anchovies, flaked tuna, tomatoes and torn basil. Toss until coated with dressing and serve with crusty bread.