I’ve shared before about my undying love for niçoise salads, and since I’m also a fan of anything on a piece of toasted bread (ie the avocado toast I eat every Sunday), it was only a matter of time before these two loves united and had a baby. Meet their beautiful summertime offspring, my tuna niçoise toast.
Toasted crusty bread spread with kale pesto, rough-mashed avocado, crisp cucumber slices, rich and garlicky oven-roasted tomatoes, chunks of oil-packed tuna, and loads of fresh basil.
Mouth. Is. Watering.
I can’t take the credit for this brilliant combination of ingredients. This toast was inspired by my favorite at Swedish Hill in Austin, which I have desperately missed during quarantine. The café will likely be reopened by the time this post runs (I’m writing it a week out), and I cannot wait to be reunited with the best bread in our city. Anyway, there was a toast on the menu last year that I became obsessed with, like had to have it every Sunday for brunch. When it ended up getting rotated off menu, I got inspired to make my own version at home, and dare I say it’s as good as the original.
Let’s start with these oven-roasted tomatoes. I tossed cherry tomatoes with garlic cloves, thyme (or rosemary, or basil), salt, and plenty of olive oil, then roasted low and slow in the oven until they got nearly as sweet as candy. I’d never made these before these toasts, but once I did, they immediately became a new staple that I keep on hand at all times. I riffed off the recipe in Gjelina’s cookbook (they serve their tomato confit on a couple different pizzas in the restaurant), and store extras in a mason jar in the fridge. These are super easy with hands-on time less than 5 minutes, but since they require a few hours in the oven, it’s nice to have a batch ready-to-go in case my toast cravings strike last-minute. I also love to spread these tomatoes on pizza, sandwiches, or on top of grilled salmon.
Good crusty bread is a MUST HAVE here. That said, if it’s a couple days old and slightly stale, all the better to soak up that yummy olive oil and tomato juice. There’s something about these ingredients that come together in a way that feels downright luxurious, even though they’re packed with health and fresh seasonality.
I love the vivid green from the kale pesto, and it’s a great way to use up those few lonely kale leaves that may have been hanging out in your produce drawer for awhile. That said, I have used good store-bought basil pesto in this recipe when I’m feeling a little lazier, and it works almost as well. Oh, and let’s talk TUNA for a sec. Did you know that high-quality oil-packed tuna bears almost no resemblance to it’s “chicken of the sea chunk light tuna in water” cousin? The latter tastes like boring diet food, while the former is a luxurious delicacy that reminds me of sitting on a terrace in the south of France. If you’ve only bought low-cal water packed tuna in the past, have I convinced you to splurge for the good stuff? Please do yourself a favor and report back.
This tuna niçoise toast is summer on toasted sourdough, and I’ve been devouring it weekly these days. Hope you give it a try, and let me know in the comments how it goes! And if you share on Instagram, be sure to tag me so I can see your creation. Scroll on for the recipe…
For the slow-roasted tomatoes:
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 5 garlic cloves, smashed
- 10 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
For the toasts:
- 2 large slices of sourdough bread
- 1/4 cup pesto (I love to use a kale pesto, but any homemade or store-bought pesto works great)
- 1 small or 1/2 large avocado, chopped
- 1 jar or tin of olive-oil packed tuna - use the good stuff here, it makes a huge difference
- 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup basil leaves
- zest of 1 lemon
- Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the slow-roasted tomatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
- Place tomatoes in a small shallow baking dish, and scatter the garlic and thyme around them. Season with kosher salt, then pour the olive oil over it.
- Bake for 2 hours, stirring once in awhile, until the tomatoes are breaking down and caramelized. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Store in a mason jar in the fridge for up to a month, covered with olive oil which keeps them sealed and fresh for longer.
For the toasts:
- Toast or grill the sourdough on both sides. I like it to be a little charred.
- On each toast, spread 2 tablespoons pesto, then place a scoop of avocado chunks. Use a fork to lightly mash, but keep it chunky.
- Between each toast, divide the tuna, cucumber slices, and a few oven roasted tomatoes. Tuck a few basil leaves in, then top with lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Eat!