Nicoise salad is one of those simple, classic bistro dishes that I always enjoy. There are so many variations on the dish but it always includes tuna as the main protein (I've had it with seared tuna, tuna confit, tuna salad...), tomatoes, nicoise olives, capers, butter lettuce and lemon dressing, It also often includes boiled eggs, potatoes, and green beans.
I thought I'd take many of the elements of the salad and combine them in a burger that could be placed on the grill. I served this with a cucumber and yogurt dressing (in place of mayo) and on an english muffin instead of a bun. I think english muffins make the perfect bread for burgers as they're the exact size and shape and not so thick that your burger gets lost under so much bread.
You could certainly use fresh seared albacore tuna here that is finely chopped for your patties. However, I simply used a good quality canned tuna that was sustainably harvested and line caught. Using line caught fish generally means that the fish was smaller when caught and therefore contains less mercury. It's generally a bit more expensive but also much more flavorful and much more responsible.
*One word of caution about these... If your patties feel on the moister/ more delicate side, you might want to place them on oiled foil while grilling otherwise you risk them falling apart and through the grill grates. If they feel good and sturdy then put them on the grill directly. I had one batch work great right on the grill and one batch fall apart. So, use your best judgement here. You can also sear them off in a saute pan and finish them in the oven.
Tuna Nicoise Burgers:
Yield 4 large patties
2, 4 oz cans line caught albacore tuna, packed in water
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
3 medium radishes, finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup nicoise olives, finely chopped
1 TB capers, drained and rinsed
1 TB lemon juice
1 TB Tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup g-free bread crumbs, plus more for dredging
1/2 cup strained greek yogurt
1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled and seeds removed, finely diced
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
8 butter lettuce leaves
1 ripe tomato, sliced
4 g-free english muffins
1) Drain the water from the tuna and place into a medium bowl. Using a fork, gently break up the large pieces of tuna. Add the next 8 ingredients (scallions through 1/4 cup breadcrumbs) and stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Form this mixture into 4 large patties. Dredge each of the patties in more of the breadcrumbs and set aside.
2) Heat the grill to 450 degrees and brush with oil. While the grill is heating, combine the greek yogurt and diced cucumber in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt & pepper. Set aside.
3) Brush each of the tuna patties with a bit of olive oil and place onto the hot grill. Grill for about 3 minutes per side, until the burgers have a nice crust and are heated all the way through. Brush the english muffins with olive oil and grill these as well, until just toasted. Alternately, you can sear the tuna burgers in a skillet with a bit of olive oil.
4) Serve each tuna burger on the grilled english muffins with a bit of the cucumber yogurt sauce, 2 slices of tomato, and a couple of butter lettuce leaves. Serve with simple green salad. Enjoy!