It’s about thyme

[Recipe 1] BARBECUED TUNA NIÇOISE SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] TOMATO and THYME SOUP
……………..
Spring, my favourite Season, has sprung. Woohoo! We’ve been loving our slow-cooked meat dishes and stews but it’s time for salads and outdoor dining methinks. We dusted off the outside furniture and ate this meal in our tiny garden recently; admiring the almost-fluoro euphorbias, rejuvenated Boston ivy and show-offy leucadendrons (pictured). Lovely! The juicy tops have been lopped off almost all our plants by the possums though. Jeez, they’re lucky they’re cute…
Barbecued tuna niçoise salad is one of our favourite Spring treats, literally bursting with colour and flavour. It’s traditionally made with fresh tomatoes and raw red onion, but roasting them first intensifies the flavour and adds depth. It is so good, and I mean good as in virtuous. We call it ‘the big bowl of health’. It can be easily adjusted for kids – see my notes at the bottom of the recipe.
Recipe 2, Tomato and thyme soup is beautiful too. Thyme is the perfect piquant partner for roasted tomatoes. Instead of creating the soup from scratch, I roast extra tomatoes and onion when preparing the niçoise salad. It’s a cinch to whip up – throw in some stock and spices, give it a blend and voila! Both my boys love it and I feel like good mummy dishing this soup up instead of Campbells.
Have a lovely weekend.
Footnote: Thanks Nutritionist in the kitchen for featuring this salad as part of your ‘Fave Five Friday Healthy Tuna Recipes’ post!

Tuna nicoise salad[Recipe 1] Barbecued tuna niçoise salad

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
3 tuna fillets (approx. 400g/14 oz total)
2 kilos (20 large) Roma tomatoes, halved
2 red (purple/Spanish) onions, unpeeled, halved
6 whole cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil for brushing
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
8 chat (baby) potatoes
250g (9 oz) green beans, trimmed
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, quartered
12 kalamata olives, pitted, halved
100g (3.5 oz) baby spinach leaves
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Niçoise Dressing:
½ cup egg mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 anchovies

Make the niçoise dressing by blending all ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Place tomatoes (cut side up), red onions (cut side down) and whole garlic cloves onto 1 or 2 trays lined with baking paper. Brush tomato halves with olive oil. Season well, and roast for 20 minutes. Remove garlic cloves and onion pieces. Return tomato halves to the oven and continue roasting for a further 30–35 minutes (tomatoes require about 50 minutes roasting time all up).
Remove 8 tomato halves and 2 red onion halves for the niçoise salad.
Reserve remaining tomato halves and pan juices (about 5 cups), remaining 2 red onion halves and all the roasted garlic cloves for the Tomato and thyme soup.
Simmer the whole chat potatoes until just tender, about 15 minutes. Lift potatoes out of the pot with a slotted spoon (don’t empty the water yet). Refresh potatoes under cold water, pat dry and slice thickly. Set aside.
Add beans to the pot of water and simmer for 3 minutes. Refresh beans under cold water and pat dry. Add beans to the potato slices.
Peel the 2 roasted red onion halves and finely slice.
Divide potatoes, beans, roasted tomato halves, roasted red onion, eggs, olives and baby spinach leaves amongst four serving plates.
Barbecue, char-grill (char-broil) or pan-fry the tuna pieces until medium rare, about 3 minutes each side. Flake the tuna and arrange over the salad.
Drizzle with niçoise dressing and scatter with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread.

  • Where possible, I choose Australian-caught Skipjack tuna, which is a much more sustainable option than Yellowfin. Skipjack also has lower mercury levels than Yellowfin. Fresh tuna can be replaced with 1 x 425g (14 oz) can tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked.
  • Fussy kid tip: I make a kid’s version of niçoise salad for my boys with tuna, potato slices, quartered eggs, chopped avocado, a few thin sticks of carrot and a decorative drizzle of kewpie mayonnaise. The unused kid’s portion of roasted tomatoes and onions can be added to the soup – no need to adjust the stock. The unused kid’s portion of green beans and spinach leaves can be tossed into a salad for lunch the next day. I often buy half a roast chook to chop up for our lunch. If I have leftover cooked or roasted veggies in the fridge, I make a chicken and veggie salad for the husband and I; while the boys tuck into chicken and avocado sangas.
  • Baby tip: Purée de-seeded roasted tomatoes, potatoes and tuna, so baby can join in on the feast. For older babies (over 12 months), you can serve up a rough, finely chopped ‘mash salad’ of egg, potato and tuna.
  • Use leftover anchovies (from the dressing) to make Puttanesca pasta!
  • Planned-overs (roast veggies) can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

[Recipe 2] Tomato and thyme soup

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
2 reserved red onion halves, peeled and chopped

6 reserved roasted garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
5 cups reserved roasted Roma tomato halves (including pan juices)
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus extra to serve
½ teaspoon harissa (North African chilli paste) or ¼ teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar (if necessary – see notes in recipe)

Place reserved chopped roasted onions, chopped roasted garlic cloves and roasted tomatoes in a large saucepan.
Add thyme leaves and stock. Bring to the boil. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Blend until smooth. I don’t bother straining the soup and discarding the seeds, but feel free to do so!
If your tomatoes aren’t particularly sweet, add the teaspoon of sugar to counter the acidity. Return soup to the pot and warm gently. Serve, scattered with thyme leaves.

  • Tomato and thyme soup can be frozen for up to 3 months.

26 thoughts on “It’s about thyme

  1. Pingback: Chili Crusted Ahi Tuna & Avocado Salad with Cilantro Garlic Dressing (GF!) … and Fave Five Friday: Healthy Tuna Recipes! @ Nutritionist in the Kitch

  2. Love your title and your photos are beautiful. Gorgeous tray of roasted tomatoes. Just harvested the last of my heirloom tomatoes (plants infected by the blight). They will be sorely missed.

  3. Hey Sas, I’ll be trying this one on the weekend and also when I get my abundant supply of cherry tomatoes from the garden in a few months. If you’re lucky I may pass on a basket or two for you. jx

  4. Thyme and tomatoes – what a delicious combo. I only ever tried tomatoes and basil.
    We love homemade soups; I am going to try this one soon.
    I never know what kind of tomatoes to buy. Some have no taste at all. Any ideas?

    • Thanks Marijke! I always go for the reddest, darkest tomatoes. Also, if they smell nice, they usually taste good too! I use that rule for many fruits and vegies, especially stone fruits and pineapple: no aroma = no taste.

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