When I was in Nice, France, I was mildly surprised to see that a large chunk of the salads on menus were Nicoise salads - especially because Nicoise is a French phrase that means "as prepared in Nice." Dishes a la Nicoise generally include tomatoes, black olives, and garlic. The quintessential salad contains these basics and additional tasty, fresh ingredients like green beans, tuna, and hard boiled eggs. Traditionally the salad is made with anchovies, but you can omit them if you like. The recipe also calls for a homemade vinaigrette, but you can easily substitute your favorite oil and vinegar based dressing if you are short on time. This hearty salad is a meal on its own - one that is perfect when paired with a French white or bubbly. To get the recipe,
1 large head Boston-lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1 pound green beans, cooked and refreshed
1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 or 4 ripe red tomatoes, cut into wedges (or 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
3 or 4 "boiling" potatoes, peeled, sliced, and cooked
Two 3-ounce cans chunk tuna, preferably oil-packed
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1 freshly opened can of flat anchovy fillets, optional
1/3 cup small black Niçoise-type olives
2 to 3 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 tablespoon finely minced shallot or scallion
1/2 tablespoon Dijon-type mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon wine vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup excellent olive oil, or other fine, fresh oil
Freshly ground pepper
- Make vinaigrette: Either shake all the ingredients together in a screw-topped jar, or mix them individually as follows. Stir the shallots or scallions together with the mustard and salt. Whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar, and when well blended start whisking in the oil by droplets to form a smooth emulsion. Beat in freshly ground pepper. Taste (dip a piece of the salad greens into the sauce) and correct seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or drops of lemon juice.
- Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter or in a shallow bowl.
- Shortly before serving, toss the beans with the shallots, spoonfuls of vinaigrette, and salt and pepper.
- Baste the tomatoes with a spoonful of vinaigrette.
- Place the potatoes in the center of the platter and arrange a mound of beans at either end, with tomatoes and small mounds of tuna at strategic intervals. Ring the platter with halves of hard-boiled eggs, sunny side up, and curl an anchovy on top of each if using.
- Spoon more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers, and parsley, and serve.