Catalan Tomato and Tuna Salad

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews 

A wonderful salad for August

Going from the Southwest of Spain to the northeast, here’s a great summer salad that comes from the culinary traditions of Catalunya. As with most all the dishes I share here, this tomato and tuna salad is easy to assemble and terrific to eat, an excellent example of the Mediterranean diet in action.

Start with some toasted bread from the Bakehouse. I typically use the Bakehouse’s Paesano because it brings flavor but won’t overwhelm other ingredients. A slice per person is probably about right. Drizzle generously with vinegar and olive oil. For the vinegar, I’d recommend one of the Catalan offerings we stock, like the Banyuls vinegar from north of the border with France. Sherry vinegar works well too. Add a bunch of chunks of ripe heirloom tomato just now starting to come. A good-sized tomato per person should be appropriate. Sprinkle the tomato sections with sea salt so that their juices will be gently released into the salad. Add some roasted peppers, also cut into chunks, like the Cristal peppers we have on hand. Add some white beans. I used the bottled beans we have which come from Catalunya but we also have great dried beans from Rancho Gordo you can easily cook. Fit a few wedges of hard-boiled egg around the edges and then add Spanish tuna on top.

For the tuna, we have the terrific tuna from Ortiz, just to the north in the Basque country. Like Inés Rosales, Ortiz is still family-owned, and in fact, the firm is even older—started in the town of Ondarroa all the back in 1891. Today it’s run by the 5th generation of the family. Nearly everything is still hand done, as it was back in the early years of the 20th century. This tomato and tuna salad would certainly be good with sardines too—I’m a huge fan of the ones we get from Ortiz! Or lay a few anchovies across the top if you like. We have the wonderful anchovies from Ortiz and from the folks at Fishwife. Add a splash more vinegar and more olive oil, probably more than what you think—you want it to soak the bread slice liberally. The bread should soak up some of the juices from the tomatoes, the vinegar, and the oil. It actually holds up well—by the second day the juices are well absorbed into the bread, so it works for leftovers too. Pour a glass of wine, sit back, put some good music on, take ten minutes and make time to get away.