Nicoise Salad

My neighbor, Paige‘s  garden is going off right now. I picked a handful of yellow and purple beans yesterday and I’m inspired to make a nicoise salad.

Today we’re on the roof doing the facia on the new garage and I can see a strip of blue ocean in the distance, it’s warm, the sun’s out, birds are chirping, my lavender’s blooming and it’s like we’re in one of our favorite towns, on the south shore of Lake Geneva I’m imagining we’re having lunch in Thonon-Les-Bains, France.

A nicoise salad is pretty much my ideal salad. It has everything, the crunch of green beans, the bite from anchovies and olives, the sweetness of cherry tomatoes and roasted red bell peppers and the taste of the sea from good tuna. It’s a perfect melding of savory goodness that I look for in a salad, a good use of pantry and fresh ingredients.

Nicoise Salad

This recipe was adapted from highly acclaimed chef, Nancy Silverton‘s cookbook, “A Twist of the Wrist.” I added some dijon mustard and a smidge of maple syrup to balance the tartness of the vinegar. The potatoes I used were roasted potatoes I had left over from last night’s dinner, so I skipped boiling new ones. You’ll notice in the picture I omitted the eggs from my salad too. I was recently told I have a high sensitivity to eggs so yeah, it sucks, I can’t have eggs anymore, one day when I stop bothering I’ll definitely add eggs to my meals again.

For the Vinaigrette

3 Tbsp aged sherry vinegar/ white wine vinegar

1 tsp Vermont maple syrup

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 large garlic cloves, minced (2 tsps)

1 medium shallot, minced

1/3 c + 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

20 fresh chives, thinly chopped

For the Salad

1 1/2c boiled potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick

4 large eggs, hardboiled

a generous pinch of salt

1/4lb green or yellow or purple beans, lightly boiled (the purple beans will turn green once cooked)

16 butter lettuce leaves

14 cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quartered depending on size

2 roasted red or yellow bell peppers

16 oz. olive-oil packed tuna, lightly drained or 4 6-ounce fresh tuna steaks, lightly pan-seared

28 nicoise olives or other black olives

8 anchovy fillets

Directions

1. In a medium size bowl whisk together the minced garlic, shallots, dijon mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Whisk and slowly stream in the olive oil. Once all combined, throw in the chopped chives to the vinaigrette. Put aside.

2. Boil the eggs til just done, be sure not to overcook them. Boil the cut potatoes til cooked. Do the same for the green beans, once removed from the hot water be sure to have them sit in cold water so they don’t get overcooked and will remain crispy, drain the water as soon as the beans are cold to prevent them from getting waterlogged and pat them dry with a papertowel. Wash the butter leaf lettuce, tear into bite size pieces. Wash the cherry tomatoes, cut in half or in quarters.

3. Quickly toss the lettuce leaves in the vinaigrette, remove and fan the leaves on 4 plates. Do the same for the potatoes, cherry tomatoes and beans, once everything’s been lightly tossed in the vinaigrette continue to build your salad on the plates.

4. Lightly drain the olive-oil packed tuna, crumble in big pieces over the salad, if you pan-seared fresh tuna steaks, slice and lay the tuna over the salad. Then randomly scatter the anchovies on top, add the olives, break the hardboiled egg in half with your hands, and drizzle any remaining vinaigrette around the salad. Feast!

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