Before seeing Julia Child make it on an episode of The French Chef, way back when, I'd never heard of salade Nicoise. Julia dressed each element of the classic composed salad individually, arranged everything artfully on a platter, and presented it (to her television audience) with great fanfare. I took a few shortcuts in preparing my version, which was precipitated by the gift of some beautiful crispy green beans from my friend Donna's garden. I had fingerling potatoes left from another recipe, plus local tomatoes and some pitted kalamata olives. A hard-boiled farm egg with a golden yolk. Baby cucumbers, almost seedless. A red bell pepper. I added a small piece of roasted tuna (vegetarians can substitute chickpeas), and used my favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing to pull together the melange of cooked and raw components. Not 100 percent authentic, but very good indeed. The recipe multiplies easily, to serve a crowd, and you can make all of the pieces ahead of time for last-minute assembly. Bon appétit!
Salad Nicoise-style, with tuna, green beans, olives and potatoes
From the pantry, you'll need: balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, agave nectar, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, eggs.
Serves 4; can be multiplied.
20 small potatoes (fingerling, baby new potatoes, tiny Yukon Gold, etc.), cut in bite-size chunks
1/2 lb green beans, tails trimmed
1/2 lb fresh tuna
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1 small head Romaine lettuce, shredded into bite-size pieces
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into quarters lengthwise
1/4 lb black or kalamata olives, pitted
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips lengthwise
1 seedless (English) cucumber, sliced thin
For the vinaigrette dressing:
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp mild agave nectar
1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch each of kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a small rimmed baking sheet pan with aluminum foil.
Spread the potatoes in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together, making sure the potatoes are coated with oil. Spread them in a single layer again. Roast for 20 minutes.
Push the potatoes to one end of the pan, and roll the green beans in the oil in the pan. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 10 minutes. When the potatoes are done (pierce one with a sharp knife; if it goes in easily, the potatoes are cooked) and nicely browned on at least one side, remove from the oven. Transfer the beans and potatoes to a plate to cool.
On the same pan, turn the fish over and over in the oil to make sure there is some oil and seasoning on each side. Roast for 5 minutes, turn, and roast on the second side for 5 minutes. The fish should be light pink inside. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Now, begin to assemble your salad. You can make one large presentation on a platter, or plate 4 individual salads.
Make a bed with the lettuce. Arrange the tomatoes, eggs, olives, bell pepper and cucumbers like the spokes of a wheel. Add the green beans and potatoes.
Use a fork to break the tuna into small chunks, and place it at the hub of the wheel.
Place the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and shake the jar vigorously until the dressing emulsifies (thickens). Drizzle as much dressing as you like over the salad, making sure to get a little bit on each ingredient.
Serve at room temperature. (Each of the ingredients can be made ahead of time, and assembled just before serving.)
Other recipes that use these ingredients:
Classic salade Nicoise, from David Lebovitz
Chicken Nicoise pasta salad, from Foodie Crush
Chickpea Nicoise salad, from Love and Lemons
Asian Nicoise salad with seared black sesame tuna, from Love and Olive Oil
Salade Nicoise with sweet potatoes and anchovy chive dressing, from Sophistimom
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