Nicoise Salad: FVCC Chef’s Table Style

By Beacon Staff

Last Friday, students of The Culinary Institute of Montana at FVCC started the ninth season of the Chef’s Table program, keeping their tradition alive of offering one of the best dining experiences in the Flathead Valley.

We have a brigade of new students, new recipes and new presentations and, as always, high expectations of student success.

Every Friday night this semester through Dec. 5, students will present Chef’s Table dinners to our patrons.

My senior sous chefs have created 12 weeks of menus, becoming more difficult in technique each week as the younger students mature to learn their craft.

This season, we will present three winemaker dinners, four international dinners and five fabulous three-course dinners.

This Nicoise salad is not your typical presentation. It consists of several components, each made separately and then attractively arranged on the plate.

This versatile salad is perfect for entertaining guests and can be used as an appetizer, a first course salad or an entrée.

Pickled onions

  • 8 oz. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

In a medium stainless steel bowl, mix the first three ingredients together.

Stir in the onions, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. chives, finely sliced

Combine all ingredients except olive oil and chives in a blender.

Blend on medium speed, and slowly drizzle olive oil into the mixture until it is thick and emulsified.

Stir in chives.

Fingerling Potatoes

  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 6 fingerling potatoes, cleaned and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste

Coat potatoes in olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lay potatoes on a sheet pan with thyme.

Cover with foil and bake until tender for 15 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature.


  • 12 to 20 oz. #1 sashimi grade tuna, cut into steaks
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper

Heat large skillet over high heat.

Brush both sides of the tuna with olive oil and fresh pepper.

When pan begins to sizzle and smoke, sear tuna for 45 to 60 seconds on each side.

Remove from pan and slice to 1/4 inch thickness.

Salad and Plating

  • 4 hardboiled eggs, sliced 1/4 inch lengthwise
  • 8 filets of anchovies
  • 20 Nicoise olives, pitted
  • 4 tsp. capers, drained and rinsed
  • 3 heads of butter lettuce, trimmed and separated

Toss lettuce leaves in Dijon vinaigrette, and place onto plate.

Arrange eggs, anchovies, olives and capers in separate groups on top of lettuce.

Place sliced tuna on top of lettuce, and top with a spoon full of pickled onions.

Drizzle vinaigrette over the tuna.

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