Thrilled to find an abundance of fresh young green beans on our return from languishing on a lake in the hills of the Ozarks, I instantly envisioned a colorful Niçoise salad filled with the flavors of the Mediterranean. How did I make the leap from freshly caught white bass, lightly coated with fine cornmeal, fried and served southern style with hushpuppies – to the south of France?
Knowing that we have a trip planned for October to the South of France and then to Paris, I’ve been perusing travel guides and having great fun reading David Lebovitz’s entertaining tales of what it’s like living as an expat in Paris in My Life in Paris. Plus, as a graduation present, the Young Baker is with her French teacher and a group of fellow students on a whirlwind tour of parts of France, Germany, and Italy and I’ve been following her itinerary closely. All this has found me yearning for the rustic flavors of the French countryside, but with temperatures creeping into the 90s and an unexpected call from our girl detailing their visit to a perfume factory in Nice, my food dreams shifted to the panoramic views of the seaside towns of the Côte d’Azur and to Provence and its cuisine of the sun.
All the farm fresh flavors of a Salad Nicoise sourced directly from our backyard garden, my vivid imagination, and strains of Edith Piaf worked to transport me to the Bay of Cannes – give it a try, it’s the next best thing to being there 🙂
- 2 cans albacore tuna*
- 4 hard-boiled eggs
- 8 small new red potatoes
- 8 ounces haricot vert or young green beans
- 1 medium head of butter lettuce I used baby romaine from our garden
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced red onion
- 8 ounces small cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 1/4 c. kalamata or nicoise olives
- 1 can sliced anchovies in oil or 2 tablespoons capers optional
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dijon or honey mustard I prefer honey mustard
- 1 small shallot minced
- 1 Tbsp. fresh basil minced
- 1 teaspoon each fresh thyme and oregano, minced
- or 1/4 teaspoon each, dried
- Salt and pepper
- Whisk all ingredient in a small glass bowl; season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Bring potatoes and 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and cook until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and set aside. Allow to cool and cut into quarters.
While the potatoes are cooking, wash the lettuce and tear into bite-sized pieces and arrange on plates. Place the tuna on top of the lettuce and arrange the quartered hard-boiled eggs, anchovies, tomatoes, and onions around it.
After the potatoes have been removed from the pot, return the water to boiling, add the green beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove while still crispy because they continue to cook. Allow to cool. Add green beans to the salad and arrange the potatoes around the edge of the plate. Drizzle with vinaigrette.
Like Pan Bagnat, which is basically a salade niçoise sandwich, canned tuna packed in olive oil is traditionally used. Many foods of French origin that we enjoy have been adapted to American tastes and water-packed canned tuna and fresh grilled tuna are usually what is used here. Don't be afraid to experiment with any of the components, especially the vegetables - this salad provides the perfect opportunity to create a beautiful and colorful presentation of seasonal produce.
Vinaigrette adapted from Simply Recipes