A long time ago a French friend told me that the best, and least offensive, way to add a hint of garlic to a salad was to rub a raw clove or two round the salad bowl before adding all the other ingredients. But what if you want it to smell, or taste, of garlic? In Pamplona I learnt a much better method: use the garlic as a salad ingredient rather than just a flavouring or part of the dressing.
This salad isn’t going to win you any friends or endear you to your colleagues first thing in the morning but it is a very simple, quick and lovely way of turning a plain, green salad into a meal rather than just a side show. I’ve now tried it with both raw and slightly caramelised, even crispy, garlic and the latter is much better and whereas, in Pamplona, they used frisée lettuce, I use romaine, which is just as good. If you can get the more expensive white tuna (for example the Ortiz stuff) it will improve this no end but, again, any good tinned tuna in olive oil will still do it justice. This barely warrants a recipe, since you may like it more garlicky or with less tuna, but here’s how I do it.
For two portions you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
olive oil, 1½ to 3 tablespoons (use the oil from the tuna for the salad, plus a little extra for cooking the garlic)
garlic cloves, two fat ones (or more if you’re feeling extra antisocial)
balsamic vinegar, ½ to 1 tablespoon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
green salad leaves, enough for two people (e.g. a small romaine, or a couple of Little Gems)
good tuna steak in olive oil, half to a whole tin
good bread, to serve
1. Rinse the salad leaves and leave them to drain.
2. Peel, top and tail the garlic then slice into thin (but not paper-thin) slices.
3. Heat a splash of olive oil in a small frying pan over a low heat then add the garlic and cook until golden on both sides. You can expect this to take about 5-8 minutes.
4. Whilst the garlic is cooking, drain the tuna of its oil (keeping the oil) then put some salt and pepper into a large bowl, add the balsamic vinegar (start with ½ tablespoon then add more if necessary to taste), stir to mix then slowly add the olive oil from the tuna. Taste and add more oil, vinegar or salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add the drained salad leaves to the dressing followed by the caramelised garlic, toss and serve with some fresh bread.