Photo courtesy of Shape

Welcome to 30 Days on a Mediterranean Diet, our new blog series! It’s no secret that eating the Mediterranean way helps with heart health and weight loss. But fast-paced modern living makes it hard to stick to any diet, which is why each 30 Days on a Mediterranean Diet post will feature a healthy Mediterranean recipe.

Nicoise may be a French creation, but it also happens to lend itself well to a Mediterranean spin. And who to do it better than Cat Cora, the veritable master of Mediterranean food? Her nicoise as lettuce wraps is a stroke of brilliance, I’m tellin’ ya. Add in the seared tuna and you have a perfect summer dinner dish that’s even better when shared with friends.

Probably the best thing about this nicoise recipe, though? All of the many nutritious ingredients that work together tastily. The dish packs a punch of equal parts flavor and essential nutrients, including: calcium, protein, potassium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, C, E and K.* Great tasting and great for you.

Cat Cora’s Tuna Nicoise Lettuce Wraps
Makes 4-6 servings


4 large eggs
4 teaspoons kosher salt
8 small Yukon Gold or fingerling potatoes (about ½ pound)
½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

For the vinaigrette

1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, preferably Meyer lemon
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, or sunflower oil, plus more if needed
2 to 3 whole basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
2 roasted garlic cloves, minced
Fresh Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

1 large head Bibb, butter, or iceberg lettuce, separated into individual leaves
1 cup red butter leaves
1 cup torn frisee (without tough stems)
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup pitted Niçoise olives

For the tuna

1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ahi (yellowfin) tuna fillets or salmon fillets (about 8 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prep & Cook

  1. Place the eggs in a medium saucepan with 2 teaspoons of the salt, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes and simmer with the eggs for 10-12 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain both the eggs and potatoes in a colander and cool in a bowlful of ice and cold water.
  3. When the potatoes are cool, remove them from the water bath. Cut Yukon Golds into thick wedges or slice fingerlings lengthwise into quarters. Peel the eggs.
  4. Meanwhile, bring another medium saucepan of water and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt to a boil.
  5. Add the beans and boil for 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain in a colander and cool them in the ice and water, adding more ice if needed. Transfer the beans to a paper towel-lined plate to cool.

For the vinaigrette

  1. Pour the vinegar and the lemon juice into a small bowl.
  2. Whisking constantly, gradually add the oil in a slow, thin stream until the dressing comes together, adding more oil if necessary.
  3. Add the basil, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour the vinaigrette into a serving cruet and set aside.

For the salad

  1. Arrange the lettuce leaves on one side of a large platter. Mound the frisee in the center and arrange the tomatoes, olives, potatoes, and green beans in mounds on the platter, leaving space in the center for the tuna on top of the frisee.
  2. Cut the eggs into quarters and arrange on the platter.

For the tuna

  1. Pour the olive oil into a medium skillet or sauté pan and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is shimmering but not smoking, add the tuna and sear on one side, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Turn and sear the other side until cooked through, another 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
  3. Stir the vinaigrette and pour a little of it (no more than 3 tablespoons) over the tuna and the salad. Place the remaining vinaigrette on the table so guests can help themselves to more.
  4. To serve, cut the tuna into a few large chunks and then spoon about “2 fingers” worth of into a lettuce leaf cup, along with a little of the eggs, potatoes, frisee, tomatoes, beans, olives, and salt and pepper to taste. Your guests can choose to fold the lettuce around the salad and eat with their hands, or to dig in with a knife and fork.

*The World’s Healthiest Foods – Tuna. and Health Benefits of Olives. Health Benefits Times and The World’s Healthiest Foods – Tomatoes.