Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise

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!

IMG_4615

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.

NIÇOISE SALAD

Yield:  Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce or Boston lettuceIMG_4614
  • 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.

IMG_4612

SOURCE:   French Cooking Made Easy,   Julia Childs

Kohala Tuna Steaks

Vacations are long anticipated, and over too quickly.  We are now home again refreshed, renewed and ready to pick up where we left off. I had so made food-related adventures that I’m anxious to tell you about, that I don’t know where to start.  I guess the logical place is at the beginning.

Our destination was the eastern shore of North Carolina, where I have family.  On the day of our arrival our host was out deep-sea fishing with friends.  When he came home he brought a selection of fish he and the guys had caught, one of which was tuna.  The next day we cooked it, grilling it in a smoker.       This was my first experience with cooking in a smoker.   We searched through several books on smoker cooking and decided to try this recipe for a mildly flavored marinade so as not to overwhelm the tuna.  It was a good choice.  The butter and sesame oil kept the fish moist and buttery and the acidic flavors of lemon and  rice vinegar and the bite of ginger kept it all in balance.  The flavor of the fish was incredible;  slightly smoky, and falling apart tender.

KOHALA TUNA STEAKS

YIELD:  4 servings

KOHALA MARINADE

  • 6 Tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted, melted
  • 6 Tablespoons Asian-style sesame oil
  • 6 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh gingeer
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 crushed tiny hot red chile (optional)

4 tuna steaks, each about 1 inch thick

1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt

soy sauce for serving

DIRECTIONS

1.   Soak wood chips of your choice for about an hour prior to smoking.   We used apple wood chips.

2.  Prepare smoker for barbecuing, bringing temperature to 180 to 200 degrees.

3.  In a shallow pan or baking dish, mix the marinade ingredients.

Place the tuna steaks in the dish and turn to coat both sides with the marinade.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 -30 minutes, turning the steaks several times.

4.  Heat a skillet over high heat and sprinkle in the salt.  Drain the tuna steaks.  Sear the steaks quickly on both sides.  Before you smoke meaty fish steaks, such as tuna or swordfish, it helps to sear them quickly over high heat to seal in their juices and add a light crust.

5.  Transfer the steaks to the smoker.  Cook the tuna to desired doneness, 20 – 25 minutes for medium-rare.  Avoid over cooking the tuna. Serve hot with soy sauce.

Suggested go withs:  Mix up a salad of thinly sliced snow peas, carrots, water chestnuts, and napa cabbage or bok choy tossed with a vinaigrette made with Asian-style sesame oil and rice vinegar;  we served this with twice-baked potatoes also.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post.

Wine go-withs include pinot gris, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, crisp whites or a fruity reisling.

SOURCE:    Smoke and Spice,   by Cheryl and Bill Jamison