Clodagh McKenna's seared tuna niçoise salad

Clodagh McKenna

From the age of 13 I used to spend my summers in a village called Châteaubourg, just outside Rennes in northern France. The mother of the family we stayed with, Madame Ronsin, was a fantastic cook and this is a variation on one of the suppers she would make for us.

The first time we had it was the first time I had ever tasted fresh tuna: she cooked it to perfection, deliciously crispy on the outside, pink and juicy in the middle. The trick with this fish is to sear it on a smoking griddle or frying pan, and cook each side for just a minute and a half — otherwise it will taste just like chicken. I love to season my fresh tuna with “fiery sea pepper” from the Cornish Sea Salt Company. It’s a blend of black and pink peppercorns, chilli, seaweed and sea salt, and it draws out incredible flavours in the fish.

If you’re rushing home and can’t get your hands on fresh tuna, sea bass or sea bream are decent alternatives, but then so is good-quality tinned tuna. Buy it with olive oil: Ortiz does very good tuna and is available in most supermarkets. When you’re making the dressing for the salad, double or triple the quantity and store it in a jam jar in the fridge — it’ll keep for a few weeks.

The dish works beautifully with a glass of unoaked white Burgundy from the Mâconnais. Made entirely from chardonnay grapes, the Cave de Lugny I recommend above has both citrus fruit notes and buttery flavours, while the finish is crisp and refreshing. Have a glass, then head to my Instagram (@clodagh_mckenna) and let me know what suppers you’d like me to share next week.

Seared tuna niçoise salad

Serves: 2

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serve with: Cave de Lugny Les Charmes, Mâcon-Lugny, £12.99 from Waitrose.


  • One egg, soft boiled (six minutes) and shelled
  • 12 French beans, cooked
  • 120g salad leaves
  • Two tomatoes, quartered
  • 12 black olives
  • 20ml olive oil
  • Two fresh tuna steaks
  • Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • One lemon
  • Four new potatoes, scrubbed, cooked and halved

For the dressing

  • 30ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10ml balsamic vinegar (or lemon)
  • One tsp Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper


1. Start by making the dressing: whisk all the ingredients together and set aside.

2. Cut the soft-boiled egg into quarters and place in a mixing bowl with the potatoes, French beans, salad leaves and tomatoes. Pour in the dressing and toss well.

3. Divide between two plates and sprinkle the olives on top. Season the tuna steaks with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Put a frying pan over a high heat, add the oil and sear the tuna on both sides for 90 seconds.

4. Take care not to cook the tuna for longer. Take it off the heat, pop it on the plate and serve.

Follow Clodagh on Instagram @clodagh_mckenna