Monday, June 25, 2012

Not-So-Nicoise Salad

Maybe it was due to our plan of seeing Ridley Scott’s Prometheus before eating dinner that inspired me to take a stab at a spaceship-sized platter of nicoise salad. It also coincided with my mission to make every single recipe out of Dorrie Greenspan’s Around My French Table for the Cute Gardener over the next few years. As I walked around Whole Foods on a Saturday afternoon gathering all of the ingredients, I was feeling rather earthy, hearty, and ready to take on a mission the size of a planet for this classic, countryside meal. Of course, when we arrived home post-cinematic experienced, I realized rather quickly while compiling the ingredients that I had completely forgotten to buy the most important ingredient: the nicoise olives. So I ended up compromising for the sake of hunger and laziness to making a large country vegetable platter that doubled as a salad when you picked and chose your mixings and threw them all into your own bowl together. And because I seemed to be propelling my inherent Lucille Ball genes into action on more than one tangent, I also realized while cooking that I had only photographed one page of the recipe from my boyfriend’s cookbook thus leading me to seek out my Julia Child recipe to patchwork with the Greenspan one creating an even ever more so bastardized version of the salad. It was still quite good.

4 entrée-sized servings

8-12 small potatoes such as baby Yukon Golds or fingerlings
¼ pound green beans trimmed
4 hard boiled eggs
4-6 handfuls Boston lettuce, mesclun or other soft salad greens, rinsed and dried
1 shallot, freshly chopped
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Double recipe of Everyday Vinaigrette (see below)
2 5-6 ounce cans of tuna packed in olive oil
10 grape tomatoes, whole or halved
2 tablespoons capers
8 anchovies

Put the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender about twenty minutes and then take out and put into a bowl to cool.

Toss the green beans into the pot of remaining water and blanch until crisp, tender, around 4-8 minutes. Drain and dunk into cold water to set their vibrant color. Drain, then pat dry.

Toss the beans with the shallots, spoonfuls of vinaigrette and salt and pepper. Toss the tomatoes with a spoonful of the vinaigrette. (Halving the tomatoes works best I discovered because if you don’t, you don’t get the juices mingling on the plate and this is a dish where mingling makes everything better.

Arrange the lettuce on a large plate as a base. Place the potatoes in the center and arrange a mound of beans at either end of those. Put mounds of the tuna at regular intervals around the plate. Halve the hard boiled eggs and ring the plate with the halves sunny side up and a nice curled up anchovy on each. Spoon the remaining vinaigrette over the entire thing and then scatter the capers on the whole thing. Let sit for a while so that flavors mingle and the salad comes up to a nice room temperature. Serve with bowls so that people can grab what they wish!


I chose this vinaigrette for this salad because it has mustard overtones in it that work well with the vegetables. It can be used for a myriad of salads and is one of my “go-tos”.

1 tablespoon of wine vinegar (red or white)
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sal and fresh ground pepper

Put all ingredients in small jar, cover, and shake vigorously until blended.

The leftovers kept quite well overnight in the fridge so we learned that they made a great base for a nice runny egg accompanied by some toasted olive bread the following morning.

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