Salade Niçoise

With a peek of sunshine today and some vague inkling of Spring on the horizon, I thought I’d finally try this light, Spring-y salad to get into the swing of things. Salad Niçoise, from the city of Nice in the Côte d’Azur, is such an iconic French dish that I was rather surprised we’d never tried it. It was really made popular in the States by Julia Child; thus, where better to turn than to her Mastering the Art of French Cooking. There seem to be an infinite number of variations on this recipe, but common themes include anchovy and tuna, green beans, potatoes and of course Niçoise olives. I actually had a can of anchovies, bought just for this purpose.

Recipe

from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking

1-1/2 cups cold, blanched green beans
1 tomato, quartered
1 cup spinach
1 can tuna, drained
1/4 cup pitted black olives
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
6 canned anchovy filets, drained
1 cup French potato salad (see below)
1/4 cup vinaigrette (see bellow)

Just before serving, season beans and tomatoes with several spoonfuls of vinaigrette. Toss spinach with vinaigrette. Arrange spinach, potatoes, beans,tomatoes, tuna, olives, eggs and anchovies on a plate. Pour remaining vinaigrette over salad.

French potato salad

5 small white potatoes
2 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
pepper

Scrub potatoes. Drop in boiling salted water and boil until potatoes are just tender when pierced with a small knife. When cool, peel and cut into slices about 1/8″ thick. Place them in mixing bowl. Pour wine over potatoes slices and toss very gently. Set aside for a few minutes to let potatoes absorb the liquids.

Beat vinegar, mustard and salt together in small bowl until salt has dissolved. Beat in oil by droplets. Season to taste. Pour dressing over potatoes and toss gently to blend.

Vinaigrette

1-1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp mustard
4 tbsp olive oil

Beat vinegar in a bowl with salt and mustard until salt is dissolved. Beat in oil by droplets and season with pepper.

Musings

This salad is supremely healthy (at least for us). Just oil and vinegar and a bit of mustard drizzled over veggies! But it’s also very tasty. The olives and anchovies provide a nice strong, flavourful counterpoint to the simpler items such as the potatoes, tomatoes and green beans. It felt very well-integrated, everything complementing each other nicely, such that you could mix and match quite easily (a bite of egg with anchovy, green beans and a bit of tuna and olive, etc.) All unified under a light, simple, yet tasty dressing. D commented that the meal felt very French–a collection of foods that they’d commonly eat anyway. All we needed was a crusty baguette! I could imagine this being great to nibble on during a hot summer day, or also great for a party (given it’s fairly lavish presentation).

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