We eat a lot of salad as our main meal in the summertime. They're light, easy to make, and when you don't want to heat up the kitchen on an already hot day, salads are a perfect warm weather meal. Add a crusty baguette and perhaps even a nice hunk of cheese and you have a very well rounded meal.
The Salade Niçoise (pronounced Neese- wahz) is a salad that hails from the Nice (pronounced Neese) region of France. The above picture created by my friend Patricia Van Esche inspired this post. Knowing this is one of my most favorite summer meals - though I eat it year round - she created the illustration for me for my Birthday earlier this month. If you've not been to her site, you must! Her
is fun and fun-filled. Her artwork is inspiring, whimsical and so much fun. (Definitely click on the link for her blog.) If you think you recognize some of her stuff, you most likely do - especially if you're a J. McLaughlin fan!
In order to create the perfect salad Niçoise you must do as they do in France and Italy- It's imperative that you use a high quality tuna packed in oil, not in water. You can't say you've had canned tuna unless you've done this. Our water packed versions do not compare. Having spent the summers of my youth in the South of France, this salad was regular part of my diet. Filled with fresh vegetables and rich in protein, this salad is a perfect meal for even the heartiest of appetites. Opt for this salad in between two pieces of thick, crusty French bread and you have the Pan Bagnat, my definition of the sandwich perfected! This summer, enjoy this salad with ingredients from your local farm or farmer's market. Sometimes this salad is served on top of a bed of Boston or Bib type lettuce. Often it is not. We like to make a large platter and have everyone serve themselves family style.
FOR THE DRESSING:
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup of red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Note: A traditional Niçoise dressing is very basic. There are many variations now and some like to add shallots or garlic or anchovy paste to the dressing. I tend to stick with the basics. Though sometimes I will infuse a clove of garlic or two for a couple of days. This dressing goes with everything so we make it in large batches and it's ready to use on any salad.
FOR THE SALAD:
1 lb. small new potatoes, boiled until tender
8 oz. haricot verts, blanched
12 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved (any in season tomato will do - we like to use heirloom tomatoes when available.)
½ cup black Niçoise olives (If you can't find Niçoise olives, Kalamata will do perfectly.)
8 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and drained
4 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
3 (4-oz.) cans high-quality oil-packed tuna, drained. (Please no Bumblebee or Chicken of the Sea!)
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
As with the dressing there are now many variations of this salad. Many opt to add onions or scallions, radishes and or beets. I prefer the plainer, more traditional version. Also the "trendy" thing to do is to add a piece of grilled salmon or tuna in lieu of the canned - and we do this from time to time, but the best is when it's made with the canned tuna. It's the most authentic
via The Tribe Online
via The Entertaining House
Pan Bagnat, original source unknown