I first made this delicious salad eight years ago and have been hooked on it ever since. My husband and I were visiting with my in-laws. My mom-in-law has a lovely garden that was in high production and I wanted to find a good use for the luscious lettuces and tender herbs that lined its pathways, as well as the delightful french green beans that were literally climbing its walls and the red tomatoes that were growing sweet in the rich dirt and strong mid-summer sun.
After consulting The Joy of Cooking for inspiration, I decided to try throwing all these things together (along with boiled eggs, tuna, olives and a little onion) in a salade Niçoise -- a "composed salad" that is built along the same lines as the American Cobb salad but with different, more Mediterranean-inspired ingredients.
The salad is hearty and satisfying but still light. You get crisp (lettuce), sweet (tomatoes, green beans and potatoes, too, if you use the right ones), salty (olives and capers), meaty (tuna and eggs) and flavorful (herbs). Happily, last week's produce box contained many of the essential ingredients of a Niçoise salad -- fresh pasture-raised eggs, lettuce, potatoes, chives, and the first green beans and tomatoes of the summer.
The Niçoise salad draws its name from its birthplace, the delightful city of Nice on the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France. I say merçi beaucoup to the French for this wonderful creation.
For the salad:
* 1 head of Boston or red leaf lettuce, washed and dried
* 6 eggs (use free-range, organic)
* 1 can of tuna (the kind packed in oil is the tastiest), drained or if you're feeling extra fancy, you can substitute grilled tuna steaks for the canned tuna
* 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
* 1 lb green beans, washed and trimmed
* 2 ripe tomatoes, washed and sliced into wedges
* 6 small Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes, scrubbed
* 1/2 cup Nicoise olives
* 2 Tbsps capers, drained
For the dressing:
* 6 Tbsps olive oil
* 3 Tbsps red wine vinegar
* 2 tsps Dijon mustard
* A handful of fresh herbs (chives, basil, thyme oregano, parsely), washed and finely chopped
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Prepare the ingredients for the salad. Hard boil the eggs then drain and let cool before peeling and slicing in half length-wise. Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water for 20 minutes, then remove (save the hot water, you'll need it for the beans) drain and let cool before cutting into 1/2-inch thick slices. Toss the trimmed greenbeans into the boiling water and cook until bright green but still crsip, 2 to 3 minutes then drain the beans and run them under cold water to prevent further cooking. Wash and dry the lettuce and herbs. Wash and slice the tomatoes into 8 wedges apiece. Drain the tuna and flake it.
2. Make the dressing. Chop the fresh herbs. Whisk together in a small bowl the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly.
3. Drizzle a quarter of the dressing over the cooked, cut up pieces of potato and the green beans and toss gently to coat. Drizzle a quarter of the dressing over the lettuce and tomatoes and gently toss to coat.
4. Compose the salad. Lay the lettuce out and top it with the tomato wedges and onion slices. Drizzle with another quarter of the dressing. Arrange the hard-boiled eggs and tuna fish over this and drizzle with the remainder of the dressing. Top with the capers and olives and serve with fresh french bread.
A few other salads you might like:
- Chopped Summer Salad
- Cucumber & Yogurt Salad With Herbs (Tzatziki)
- Green Salad With Goat Cheese, Pears & Candied Pecans
- Herbed Farro Salad