Posted by Stephanie Simpson on
Here it is team! The meal that got me through a grueling weekend of listening to music and not much else.
A Niçoise (nee-swahz) salad! Well, sort of.
A true Niçoise salad (or salade Niçoise) — a tasty dish that originated in the southern coastal French town of Nice — is composed of a medley of raw veggies, hard-boiled eggs, meat in the form of tuna or anchovies (but never both), and dressed simply with olive oil. Gosh, rules hey?
This version channels the more traditional non-traditional Niçoise salads (which is to say, most Niçoise salads are not true Niçoise salads) and throws a lot of those rules out the window: cooked veggies in the form of new potatoes and snappy green beans are added to the mix, the meat is scrapped, and cheese - cheese! - tops everything off. Rules be damned, I say!
The end result is a substantial summery salad loaded with colours, textures and flavours: fluffy baby potatoes, crisp green beans, soft hard-boiled eggs (an accurate contradiction, if ever there was one), salty black olives, spicy red onion, peppery arugula, creamy blue cheese, all topped with a bright French vinaigrette. Oh man!
It’s also super-simple to throw together. The most (minimally) laborious bit is chopping the veggies, which I like to liven up by making a game out of seeing how many bean tips I can lop off in one go. Guillotined bean salad, maybe that’s what it should be called.
Give this a try while tasty summer veggies like green beans and bright tomatoes are kicking around. Just make sure you keep the end result — a truly nontraditional Niçoise — in the kitchen and off the streets of Nice, or heads (of lettuce) will surely roll!
Nicoise Salad, Sort Of
Makes 4 servings
2 ripe tomatoes
A large pinch or two of salt
3/4 lb baby potatoes, halved or quartered (whatever is bite-sized!)
2 large handfuls fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1 cup packed salad greens (I used arugula)
1/3 cup black olives, pitted and cut in half
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
Big pinch of freshly ground pepper
French vinaigrette (below)
2-3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut into quarters*
1/4 cup blue cheese**
Cut tomatoes into wedges, place in a colander over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and let sit while you get started on everything else.*** In a medium pot, cover potatoes with an inch of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when stabbed with a fork, 15 minutes or so. Transfer potatoes into a large bowl using a slotted spoon. Place beans in pot with simmering potato water and cook until they’re bright green and tender but still crisp, 3-4 minutes. Plunge beans into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further, then drain beans and pat dry with a towl. Add to bowl with potatoes the tomatoes, beans, greens, olives, onion, basil, 1/4 cup of vinaigrette and pepper. Toss, taste and add more dressing as desired. Top with eggs, blue cheese and one last drizzle of vinaigrette.
*To hard-boil an egg, place eggs in a deep pot and cover with one inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat and let stand for 13 minutes. Once time is up, drain, let cool in cold water, and peel. Easy!
**If a bold blue isn’t your thing, substitute in your favourite slightly soft, salty cheese or skip the cheese altogether!
***This step draws some of the extra moisture out of the tomatoes and makes them extra-tasty!
Adapted from davidlebovitz.com
Makes 1/2 cup (enough for the recipe below, possibly with a bit leftover)
2 tbsp minced shallots
2 tbsp sherry, red wine, or white wine vinegar (I used the latter)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
In a jar, combine shallots, vinegar and salt and let stand for 10 minutes (to give the shallots the opportunity to mellow out). After 10 minutes is up, whisk in the Dijon mustard, and then the olive oil. Taste and adjust with more salt, vinegar, mustard or oil as necessary.