Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Classic French Nicoise Salad

The nicoise salad is one of my favorites, yet I somehow always forget about it. Like most salad's it's ingredients always change depending on taste and preference. The French are the originators of the nicoise salad, especially in the Nice area (if you don't know about France, Nice is not "nice" like it's spelled, it is pronounced like neece, or niece).  The big difference is that the French make the nicoise salad with no cooked vegetables. Of course, over the years people have changed the recipe and typically cooked vegetables can be found on a nicoise salad in restaurants today.

I have made the nicoise salad a couple of times and I typically use the same ingredients.
  • Green beans
  • Red potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • Olives (kalamata - but there are nicoise olives you can use)
  • Egg
  • Greens
  • Tuna (canned)
  • Capers are also a good addition, but I haven't used them 
I have had a nicoise salad with salmon and I have seen it with anchovies, but for budget purposes and ease of preperation, canned tuna is usually my first choice.

When making this salad you can take many different directions. You can steam the green beans and boil the potatoes or you can roast both of them. You can use a hard boiled egg, poach an egg or fry an egg (you can also omit it). You can use as much, or as little of any ingredient as you want and you can add in other ingredients depending on the flavors you want. Typically the salad is served with a vinaigrette, but I typically marinate my tuna in oil, lemon juice and spices and that usually provides enough of a dressing for me. 

I mean seriously... how can you say no to a salad looking like that? Unless you hate all of those ingredients on that plate, if you say no to this salad - you are a little insane.

I think one of the reasons I like this salad so much is because I have a little obsession with having a lot of different flavors in one place. I love bowls that have a lot of ingredients where I can get multiple flavors at once. It's also a good salad to make when you have a couple lingering ingredients left in your pantry or fridge.

Seriously, you can put anything you want on this salad, these are just the typical ingredients. If you want to prepare this salad like I did all you really have to do is slice up the tomatoes and olives. Marinate your tuna in about two tablespoons of olive oil and lemon, parsley and salt and pepper (depending on how much tuna you used - my mom had this salad with me so I marinated two servings of tuna).

To prepare the potatoes and green beans:

Preheat the oven to 350

Trim the edges of the green beans and quarter the potatoes. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Keep the green beans and potatoes separate on a cookie sheet, you will be removing the green beans before the potatoes.

Set the timer for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the green beans (make sure they have browned a little and are more tender than crunchy). Once 10 more minutes have, passed remove the potatoes. These should also be a bit brown and tender. The potatoes are so good, you might be tempted to snack on them while preparing the rest of your salad. At least, that's what I was doing.

This salad would be great paired with a light fresh wine. I'd recommend a sauvignon blanc, but I am biased because that's my favorite and I think it goes well with everything.

Bon Appetit!

Here are some other great nicoise salad recipes:

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