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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dinner with Friends

by Heather

Our close friends, Susan and Rol, were saying goodbye to Susan's sister, Sally and her husband, Jim, who were heading back to Omaha, Nebraska, after their winter stay in Scottsdale. Over the years, we've gotten to know Sally and Jim and count them as dear friends, too.
Tom and I wanted to send them off in style with a small dinner party; their only request was "no meat." Seafood would be fine, however. Generally, my go-to seafood for entertaining is crab legs which require no prep time -- important for a working woman. However, Susan isn't a meat or fish eater but really loves all types of salads.
What to do?
Salad Nicoise was the perfect answer.
When served in France, it's generally made with canned tuna but that didn't seem special enough so I found a recipe (at the end of this post) using fresh tuna instead.

I wanted the table to reflect the ocean and feeling of the impending summer season (remember, this is Arizona so we rush through Spring pretty quickly).

Pottery Barn place mats; Martha Stewart white dinner plates; seashell salad plates from Home Goods; small seashell plates from Wests Elm; Pottery Barn napkin rings

Glasses from Ballard Designs
I painted seashells gold to match the gold rims of the glasses; Pottery Barn name card bottle
In a past post, I told the story behind the piece of driftwood that husband Tom made into a candle holder.
Sally, Tom, and Susan.
Rol and Jim were outside taking advantage of the beautiful evening (and having a cigar) 

Salad Nicoise with Fresh Tuna 


Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
Serves: 8

Ingredients

Vinaigrette:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:

  • 1 pound small red new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 pound haricots verts or French green beans, stems trimmed
  • 2 pounds fresh sushi-quality tuna (I used ahi tuna)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint teardrop or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup nicoise olives
  • 16 anchovy fillets
  • 16 caper berries with stems
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chives, snipped in 1/2
  • fresh mixed salad greens (I added these to act as a bed under the tuna and then used the nicoise salad around the edge of the platter.  The additional greens really aren't visible in my pictures so you'll have to trust me that they're there!)

Directions

  • To make the vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in a mason jar. Screw the cap on the jar and shake the vinaigrette vigorously to emulsify. Set the dressing aside while preparing the salad so the flavors can marry.
  • Cooking the potatoes, eggs, and green beans in the same pot cuts down on prep time and clean up. To do this, put the potatoes in a large saucepan, add water to cover and a nice pinch of salt; bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer the potatoes for 12 minutes to give them a head start, and then add the eggs. Place a steamer basket or colander on top of the simmering water. Put the green beans in the steamer and cover with a lid. Steam the beans for 5 minutes until crisp-tender while continuing to cook the potatoes until fork tender. Drain out the water and put the potatoes, eggs, and green beans in a colander; rinse briefly under cold water. Peel the shells off the eggs and cut them in 1/2 lengthwise. (To be honest, I didn't do it this way. Seemed easier to use more pots and cook things individually. As I was doing this a day ahead, time and clean-up wasn't an issue.)
  • Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Rub the tuna on all sides with olive oil, and a bit of the vinaigrette; season with a fair amount of salt and pepper. Lay the tuna in the hot pan and sear for approximately two (2) minutes on each side; as the tuna cooks, the red meat will become whiter. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and slice.(NOTE: I did my tuna longer than two minutes since I wasn't sure all guests were fans of seared tuna. It was still really tasty!
    I did it on the grill instead of searing it in a pan. Cuts down on the "fish smell" inside the house. I cooked it the night before to cut down on prep time the day of the meal. We had leftovers for lunch the day after the dinner party that were still great so the entire salad could be prepared the day before.  The salad is served at room temperature which makes this an easy dish to prepare in advance. )
  • To assemble the salad: combine the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, anchovies, capers, and chives in a large mixing bowl. Take the vinaigrette and give it another good shake to recombine. Drizzle the salad with enough vinaigrette to fully moisten (save some of the vinaigrette to drizzle over the fish before serving) and toss gently to coat; season with salt and pepper. Take care not to mush up the ingredients - the important thing about salad nicoise is that it is arranged nicely on a platter with all the elements keeping their individual integrity. Put the tossed salad down the center of a serving platter (I used salad greens for this part) and lay the seared tuna attractively across the top and the eggs around the rim. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve. (note: because I used salad greens as the bed for the tuna, I arranged the tossed salad of potatoes, green beans, etc., around the edge of the platter)
    Easy dessert: fresh berries over vanilla bean ice cream
  • To let you know just how good this was, my husband asked ever so nicely if this was a lot of work, and if it wasn't, could we have it again please.
    The answer: Not too much work and we definitely need to make this again!
    So nice to have something this healthy and this tasty be this easy.
    The perfect meal for a warm summer evening
    (or a spring evening if you happen to live in Arizona).
    Happy entertaining!
    Love,
    Heather



54 comments:

  1. What a beautiful table setting. Being from Florida I love anything to do with the beach. And that salad looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Patti. I grew up in Minnesota (Land of 10,000 Lakes) so beaches are something I love. Not quite the same as the ocean though!
      Heather

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  2. Everything looks beautiful and the food so delicious!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kathy. The food was so good that I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Will have to make it again soon!
      Heather

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  3. Wow! Your tablescape is so awesome! What eye candy!

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  4. Hi Heather,
    Your table is stunningly beautiful and was a great theme as well. That salad Nicose looks wonderful as well. I am sure they really enjoyed that, and was a really sweet and special thing you did for them.

    blessings, Nellie

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nellie. As fate would have it, I just got the nicest thank you card from Sally and Jim today. They're special people, as are Susan and Rol, so it was really our pleasure to have them to our home.
      Heather

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  5. This is beautiful! Your guests musrt have felt so special. The salad looks delicious. I copied the recipe (thanks!) cause my hubby loves ahi tuna and salad. I love the beach themed tablescape....Christine

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Christine. I hope your husband enjoys it as much as mine did :)
      Heather

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  6. What a great send off for your friends! The t'scape is beautiful! Love the cylinder vases with floating candles as a centerpiece for all the lovely sea-inspired decor! That salad looks super delish and how clever you were to able to come up with something everyone would enjoy - luckily AGAIN for your hubby!

    DD

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, DD. I don't know about clever -- lucky perhaps.
      Heather

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  7. Thanks for sharing your tablescape and recipe! I always seek out inspiration for setting a table and your was delightful! The note in the bottle as a name card tickled me so. And Salade Nicoise? I adored eating that when we lived in Geneva, Switzerland. A friend had introduced me to this and I marveled at the simplicity and yet complex flavors blending together. I will try your recipe soon!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kadee. When you lived in Geneva and ate Salad Nicoise, did they make it with canned tuna or fresh?
      Heather

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  8. They must have been so honored to be a guest at this magnificent table. It's beautiful and has so much detail.

    Wonderful to have you at Seasonal Sundays.

    - The Tablescaper

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for hosting Seasonal Sundays!
      Heather

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  9. I love it all but I the best part is the message in a bottle names for place holders... Fantastic! Beverly Tea Cottage Pretties.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Beverly. I found those little bottles several years ago and have used them ever since for my coastal tablescapes.
      Heather

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  10. All I can say it that those pictures deserve to be in a magazine!! What a gorgeous table setting!!! I know y'all must have had such a wonderful time!! Each element from the place settings to the centerpiece are incredible....really awesome job! And I have to agree with Beverly above...the message in a bottle name cards idea is just adorable!!
    Thanks so much for sharing your lovelies with us this week for my party!
    Blessings,
    Doni

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Doni. I appreciate your comments!
      Heather

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  11. Oh, what a beautiful table AND salad! I'm sure it was delicious--I can tell from the pictures! ~Zuni

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Zuni! It did taste pretty good.
      Heather

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  12. Beautiful tablescape! Looks like it came straight from the Pottery Barn showroom!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tammy. I do like Pottery Barn!
      Heather

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  13. Wow, every single little detail is stunning! love your menu too.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Denise. Your comments are much appreciated!
      Heather

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  14. I want to be invited to your next dinner party! The table setting is beautiful and the salad, WOW! Thanks for linking up to Talkin’ About Thursday link party. I hope you will come back this week too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I don't always do a post that would be appropriate to link, but if I do, I will certainly be back.
      Heather

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  15. Awesome table! so many details, I have been lapping up inspirations for my summer tables! Looks like a wonderful evening with friends, thanks for sharing your beautiful table!
    Jenna

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jenna, for your lovely comments and stopping by our blog.
      Heather

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  16. Oh My! What a beautiful tablescape. Feels like you're at the beach without actually being there. I am sure your friends enjoyed it and the food. Thank you for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Tina. Just wish we were by the ocean!
      Heather

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  17. How gorgeous! Your table is beautiful and the food looks wonderful, too! I live in Florida so I'm always looking for beachy ideas. Thanks for telling us where you found things!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome. How fun to live in Florida. By the ocean, I hope?
      Heather

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  18. Dinner sounds delicious, but your table is totally exquisite. I love the gold beach theme, so beautiful. Thanks tons for joining Inspire Me. Definitely very inspiring. Hugs, Marty

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    Replies
    1. Always a pleasure to join your party, Marty! Thanks for the nice comments.
      Heather

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  19. Heather, you really know how to entertain. Love the spread that you put on and the salad looks delicious. Fantastic to be healthy, easy, delicious, and beautiful to look at! Thanks for sharing it with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jann. I really enjoy setting the table and inviting friends over for a meal.
      Heather

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  20. Gorgeous tablescape and the perfect dinner to send your friends off - I made Julia Child's version quite a while back - this one looks so wonderfully done! I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,
    Kathy

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kathy. You'll have to let me know how Julia's version differed from this one, okay?
      Heather

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  21. Your tablescape looks divine Heather. Thank you for linking up at Shabbilicious Friday last week. I have featured you today.

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  22. I featured you today on Made in a Day! Thanks for linking up!
    Kim

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    Replies
    1. Wow again! Thanks for featuring this post!
      Heather

      Delete
  23. I love this table! You have some great pieces here and I am so glad you shared this on the FESTIVE FRIDAY FIESTA! I hope you'll come back and share with us again! Have a great rest of your week! =D

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, D. Will be happy to come back again and share!
      Heather

      Delete
  24. I absolutely love this salad! We actually had it served at our wedding reception almost 2 years ago (our 2 year anniversary is May 20th!). The caterers served it with a smoked salmon. It was amazing!

    Thank you for sharing at Marvelous Mondays this week! :)

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    Replies
    1. Mmm, love the idea of smoked salmon! I'll have to try that. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. We appreciate that!
      Heather

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  25. Visiting from Monday Funday. I'd like to invite you to my Friday Flash Blog, where you can share your best blog entry of the week! The party goes on ALL weekend at thejennyevolution.com. And who knows, you may just get featured next week.

    Jennifer
    thejennyevolution.com

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    Replies
    1. Would love to party with you at your Friday Flash Blog!
      Heather

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  26. Your table looks divine! The recipe looks and sounds delicious. I know a good time was had by all. I'm so glad you joined us at Transformed Tuesday.

    Hugs,
    Peggy~PJH Designs

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Peggy. And thanks for hosting Transformed Tuesday!
      Heather

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  27. So pretty. Love that you served tuna and the table and candles looks magical. Thanks for sharing. Looks like a lot of fun.
    p @ BeColorful

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