For Summer days…
A Salade Niçoise is a splendid meal for a warm summer day — it’s fresh and light, yet substantial.
In general, I follow the recipe from Julia Child. But I always make a few modifications along the way.
Just out of college I lived in Washington, D.C., where I had a fun-funny roommate from the south of France. She used to make a Salad Niçoise and eat it for days! She would always include cucumbers and corn in her salad — I’ve found these to be a delicious addition ever since. As far as the tuna, I usually use an Italian tuna packed in olive oil. I usually do not include the potato salad that Julia recommends.
For the salad in this post, I’ve used anchovies wrapped around capers. As you’ll see, I’ve composed my salad a little differently than Julia recommends — I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.
I love to make the tuna Niçoise sandwich from “The Way to Cook” by Julia. A quick Choux recipe piped into a circle becomes the base for this toothsome lunch. Click on Sandwich and Choux to read our post on this dish.
In a recent post I received from David Lebowitz, he discusses the Salade Niçoise, click on David to read his post. David lebowitz was formerly a pastry chef for Chez Pannise, he currently is living in Paris and writes a fascinating blog about his life, and in particular, his experiences with food in Paris. In his post, he strongly emphasizes the importance of serving only fresh foods in this salad (he thinks only the eggs should be cooked). Though they are not my favorite vegetable, I cannot imagine a Salade Niçoise without steamed haricot verts.
So, as you can tell, this recipe, like all recipes, is open to interpretation.
Here is how Julia does it:
From Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, by Julia Child.
“Of all main-course salads, the Niçoise is my all-time favorite, with its fresh butter-lettuce foundation; its carefully cooked, beautifully green green beans; its colorful contrast of halved hard-boiled eggs, ripe red tomatoes, and black olives; all fortified by chunks of tuna fish and freshly opened anchovies. It’s a perfect luncheon dish, to my mind, winter, summer, spring, and fall — an inspired combination that pleases everyone.”
1 large head Boston-lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1 pound green beans, cooked and refreshed
1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/2 to 2/3 cup basic vinaigrette
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
1/3 cup small black Niçoise-type olives
2 to 3 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
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.
Spoon more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers, and parsley, and serve.
With a bottle or two of rose wine and a baguette, this is a dreamy lunch or light dinner for a summer afternoon.