Vibrant colors, a variety of textures and rich, briny flavors make this salad Nicoise one of my favorites.
If you're wrapped in an afghan and shivering in the cold or watching snow flurries or cursing the thought of your next budget-breaking gas bill, then you may not be able to imagine a late-November picnic with temperatures in the 70's.
It's been so unseasonably warm here in Southern California, that I had to change both the site and menu for our al fresco autumn meal. We abandoned the "top of the world" location with no shade and settled on a tree-lined site in the lowlands. And I gave up on the idea of a hearty beef stew in favor of heat-friendly salad Nicoise.
It's beginning to look a lot like autumn - finally.And, of course, this wasn't just any picnic. It was another trespassers picnic, where crossing the line is part of the fun. My motto is the food always tastes better when you're being just a little bit naughty.
There seem to be as many opinions about the components of a proper salad Nicoise as there are opinions about getting us out of this financial crisis. Should the tuna be packed in oil or water? White or dark meat? What about the restaurant trend of serving rare ahi tuna? Should tomatoes be included? What about anchovies or capers? Are greens included in a proper salad Nicoise? This is one controversial salad.
In an effort to please almost everyone, I included both a water-packed albacore tuna and an oil-drenched Italian variety, both already on my pantry shelf. I added tomatoes for color, even though they are close to tasteless this time of year. And I left out the greens due to forgetfulness (I left them behind in the refrigerator), not for a desire to be authentic.
This recipe is adapted from the one posted by Tea and Cookies, who modified the recipe from the Silver Palate cookbook.
All mixed up - not as pretty, but just as yummy. It's better (and prettier) to add the eggs after tossing and then drizzle the dressing on top of the eggs.
Salad Nicoise (Pronounced "nee-SWAHZ")
8 small red potatoes, cooked in salted water until tender but not mushy
2 lbs green beans, trimmed, blanched in boiling water until bright green but still crispy
4 small ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small purple onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Nicoise olives
pinch of salt
1 tsp pepper
3/4 cup dressing (recipes follows)
6 hard boiled eggs, quartered
12 oz oil packed tuna
2 oz anchovy fillets
Assemble all ingredients, except eggs, tuna and anchovies, in a large bowl or on a serving platter. Toss With dressing. Arrange eggs, tuna and anchovies on plate or platter and drizzle with dressing.
1 tbs dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or champagne vinegar)
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
1 small shallot, minced
(I've experimented with lots of different dressings for salad Nicoise, and this was the best complement by far.)
Put the mustard, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper into a small jar and shake. Mix in the parsley and shallot.
Enjoy this classic dish in a serene, pastoral setting, preferably without the humming of leaf blowers and the din of trash trucks.
La MenuTuscan white bean dip with blue corn chips
Fresh berries with cassis liquer and orange zest
Red and white wine