Let’s pretend we are vacationing in the South of France, in the little seaside town of Nice. We’re sitting outdoors at an umbrella table overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranian Sea, while below us boats and yachts are floating at anchor, and we are enjoying a delicious salad for lunch. Ah, yes— we can dream. But the rest of this is not a dream. The salad is called Salade Niçoise and you can have it right in your own home. Today!
While no one claims to have invented this French salad (niçoise just means “in the style of Nice”), credit is given to Julia Childs for popularizing it in the U.S. during the 1960’s. I, for one, am so glad she did. Thank you, Julia!
Over the years I have made this salad many times. It is one of my go-to meals when the weather turns so warm that you don’t want to cook, and barely have an appetite at all. This salad will change all that. When there is fresh produce available at the supermarket and roadside stands, it is so easy to prepare. You can vary the vegetables you use, and it is also a good way to use up small amounts of leftovers. The classic Salade Niçoise, usually contains small cooked potatoes, thin green beans, hard-cooked eggs, tomatoes, radishes, olives, and tuna on a bed of lettuce. These ingredients are laid out on a large platter so everything is visible, making a rather grand presentation. At serving time, simply dress with your favorite oil and vinegar dressing. Enjoy with a crunchy loaf of French bread.
Although the recipe below outlines all the steps for cooking the various components of this salad, I usually make it when I have some left over red-skin potatoes, and green beans on hand from a previous meal. This saves times when you want to make the salad. Also, a good quality tuna is usually used here, but I have substituted cooked shrimp at various times, with the same wonderful results.
Yield: Serves 4
- 1 head of Romaine lettuce or Boston lettuce
- 8 – 10 small whole red-skin potatoes
- 2 Tablespoons dry white wine
- 10 0z. thin green beans, or haricots verts, trimmed
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 shallot, minced
- 2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
- freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 12 small grape tomatoes
- 6 radishes, trimmed and quartered
- 2 (5 1/2-ounce) cans Italian or Spanish tuna packed in olive oil, drained
- 1/2 cup black olives
1. Put potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with cold water and season with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until fork tender, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with the white wine and let cool. Reserve the saucepan.
2. In another saucepan, bring salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender and bright green, 2 – 4 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking action. Drain and pat dry.
3. In the reserved saucepan, place the eggs and cover with cold water by about 1 inch. Bring to a simmer, then cover, remove from the heat and let stand 10 – 12 minutes. Drain, then run under cold water to cool. Peel immediately under cold running water.
4. Make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, shallot, mustard, thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt and peper to taste in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until emulsified.
5.Toss the tomatoes in a small bowl with salt, pepper and a little dressing. Add about 1/4 cup dressing to the potatoes and toss. Quarter the hard-cooked eggs.
6. Wash the lettuce, dry with paper towels and chop into bite sized pieces.
Assemble the Salad:
1. Place the lettuce on a large platter
2. Begin by placing the tomatoes in the center of the platter, then work your way out to the edges making small piles with the other ingredients. There is no required pattern, just make it attractive. A nice presentation is your goal.
3. Drizzle more dressing over all, or serve dressing on the side.
SOURCE: French Cooking Made Easy, Julia Childs