What makes a salad a Niçoise salad? The answer is surprisingly controversial. (That is if you want to put your energy into such “controversies”).
For me, a Niçoise always contains tuna, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and olives. An online debate I stumbled across had many people claiming that one should never add green beans or potatoes to the salad. What?! Heresy! Any restaurant where I have ordered the Niçoise has always had those staples as a foundation for the salad. Perhaps I’ve been making and ordering an American version all this time? Not so… many of responders from the debate were French and they were defending the use of those ingredients. Many people also add anchovies or capers. To me they overpower the other ingredients, so I leave them out.
I recently watched a video from one of Julia Child’s old shows featuring Jacques Pépin, who was making a Niçoise salad. To me it looked more like an antipasto platter with raw and cooked vegetables and a can of tuna fish emptied out on the platter — not at all what I expected. At least Mrs. Child made a point of recommending using good tuna packed in oil. I buy tuna filets in jars, not cans, and most supermarkets carry them.
All this to say, a Niçoise is flexible. For me though, it is the recipe below. Feel free to make it your own.
Arliano Update (Aggiornamento Arliano):
Our solar panels have been installed! They are also beginning to install our floor tiles, which will really make a difference in how our place looks. Other good news is that Deloitte and Touche, the company processing all the Eco-bonus rebates, have finally signed off on our contracts. Now we can breathe a sigh of relief that we will get the reimbursements for much of the energy saving portions of our renovations (solar panels, insulation, new windows, etc.).
In the garden, just when I start getting nervous that the seeds that I planted are “duds”, up they pop. This week the first plantings of zucchini and corn made their appearances. Zucchini was the star of last year, and corn was the biggest disappointment. Fingers crossed that by using a drip irrigation system we will have greater success. The eggplant seeds are still being shy and not one has broken ground. Maybe as the temperature climbs, they will too.
Did you enjoy reading or making the recipe from this post? If so, please consider giving it a “like” or a comment. It would be nice to know you are out there and that my posts connect with you.
- Salad for 4 people
- 2 large handfuls for each serving of Arugula or your favorite lettuce (in the photo you will see that I used Lamb’s lettuce, or Valeriana. It looked great at the market, and it also worked well for this salad)
- 1 jar (180- 200-grams) tuna filets in olive oil (or a can in olive oil), oil drained
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) green beans
- 1 pound (16 ounces) baby potatoes, any color. This is about 4 potatoes per person. Increase or decrease as you like
- 4 hard- or soft-boiled eggs, halved or quartered (one egg per person)
- 1 small red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 4-5 cherry or grape tomatoes, per person, sliced in half
- Black olives, any type you prefer (I use Greek kalamata or French cured), pits removed. As many as you like (I use about 5 – 7 per person)
- Vinaigrette (see recipe, below)
- Kosher or sea salt as needed ___________________________
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) extra virgin olive oil (or other oil of your choice such as hazelnut, pistachio, walnut, or pumpkin seed)
- 1/4 cup (59 ml) white wine vinegar (or other acid such as wine, lemon juice or other type of vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (not iodized table salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or ground hot pepper flakes
Classic Vinaigrette Recipe
- Prepare the boiled eggs and cool them to room temperature. Here’s how I do them: Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Using a large spoon, gently place the eggs into the boiling water. Boil for exactly 1 minute. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible and cover. Simmering for seven minutes on low heat gives you a very soft-boiled egg with the yolk a little runny. Eight minutes gives you a soft-boiled egg with the yolk barely set. Nine minutes gives you a hard-boiled egg. Remove the eggs from the simmering water and place them in a bowl with ice water until fully cooled
- Wash and boil the potatoes until a sharp knife can easily pierce them to the center (depending on the type, age, and size of the potatoes, this may take 10 – 15 minutes). Drain and let cool completely and then cut each in half or quarters
- Wash, de-stem and boil the green beans for 4 – 5 minutes. Once boiled, plunge them into an ice water bath to stop their cooking and preserve their color. Drain and pat them dry with a clean dish towel
- For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid and shake or whisk until fully combined
- In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with just a bit of vinaigrette (I suggest using 1 tablespoon at a time, so you do not accidentally over dress the lettuce). Place the dressed lettuce on each plate
- Using the same bowl, lightly dress each type of vegetable separately and place them on top of the lettuce. I like to keep all the ingredients separate on top of the lettuce bed, but do as you like
- Finally, add the tuna, boiled eggs, and olives to the plate and serve with extra vinaigrette on the side