I am a perennial “salad” eater. Not “salad” as in Eddie Murphy’s (when he was still funny and minced around in a purple leather suit – no joke!) take on women he dated who would say “Oh, I’ll just have a salad and a glass of water.” while their stomach made obscene rumbling noises, then they would say “I don’t know why my stomach is making those noises – it’s so embarrassing.” And he would sneer “Cause your hungry b***h!”
I mean Salad - capital S. Ottolenghi type salads. Served in flat plates. With different textures to titillated my taste buds. Seasoned and dressed well. With a protein or a carb thrown in there to keep me going. It can take me and hour to get through one of my salads. More often than not because I make it to serve at least three but it ends up just being me who gobbles it all down. What? It’s just a salad! See how I am making that work for me there? : )
I don’t often see Nicoise on menus these days. I guess it’s a bit passé – like putting “sun-dried tomatoes” on a menu – thank goodness that phase has passed! The sun-dried tomato one I mean.
In my opinion you need 6 elements for a salad to qualify as a Nicoise; tuna, olives, potatoes, green beans, eggs and tomatoes. You can add salad or not, be creative with the herbs but a Nicoise needs those 6 building blocks.
Here is my take on this great classic.
2 eggs – just barely hard-boiled
a handful of green beans, topped – tailed and halved
4 small waxy potatoes or new potatoes
1/2 a head lettuce (you can easily leave this out, I just like having another layer – visually and for taste)
8 kalamata olives (or nicoise if you find them)
10 or so cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon chives finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
4 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1. Boil the potatoes until done (10-15 minutes depending on the potatoes)
2. Blanch the green beans for 3-5 minutes until just cooked but they still retain a bite.
3. Dissolve the mustard in the vinegar, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Throw in the chives.
4. On a low plate, scatter the leaves and the rest of the ingredients. Salt the potatoes, eggs and tomatoes on a board. Then layer the ingredients and then drizzle with dressing.