12 August 2008

Salad Nicoise

I'm a bit afraid to jinx it by writing anything, but the weather in DC has been amazing lately. Sunny, warm but not hot, and the humidity is actually in a normal and not 'one step out of the house and even the straightest hair will frizz range.' I took the opportunity to get a head start on some baking this weekend as the windows were open and it wouldn't make the apartment insufferably hot and between that and the Olympics, by the time Sunday night rolled around, I really didn't want to do any cooking for dinner. I had picked up a copy of the The Flexitarian Table at the library and had been flipping through it during Olympic commercial breaks when I came across a recipe for Salad Nicoise. The point of the The Flexitarian Table is to give vegetarian and meat options for each of the dishes and for the salad Peter Berley suggests either tuna or cheese with this salad but since I actually like canned tuna (and am slightly ashamed to admit it) I went with the tuna option.

I think I like Nicoise salad so much because of all the contrasting flavors and textures. The crunchy beans and the warm potato, the smooth egg with the flaky tuna and the salty olives make it exciting and way more nutritious than a plain lettuce salad. It's also a great one plate meal since it has all the basics (veg., carbohydrate and protein) on the same plate. My only complaint is that there wasn't quite enough salad dressing but that was completely my own fault, as I decided to just make half the recipe and reduce the amount of oil, as I generally like my salads really lightly dressed. You might want to double the dressing listed below.

Salad Nicoise
Adapted from The Flexitarian Table
Serves 4 for dinner

For the salad:
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and ripped up
4 small red potatoes
1/2 lb. green beans
4 eggs, hard boiled*
15-20 olives, nicoise if you can find them
1 can (6oz.) tuna, your favorite kind

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic
2 t. capers, drained
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/4 olive oil, your best
2 T. mustard
1/4 t. dried thyme

- Set a steamer basket in a small pot, add water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, scrub the potatoes and cut them into 1/2in. thick slices. Add the potatoes to the steamer basket and cook for 12 minutes, then put the green beans on top and cook for another 6 minutes.

- While the potatoes and beans and cooking, put all of the dressing ingredients into a blender and have at it, until the capers and thyme are well broken up. Arrange the lettuce on 4 plates.

- When the potatoes and beans are tender, drain them and return them to the pot, cooking for another minute or so to evaporate some of the water. Put the potatoes and bean into a bowl, add 2 T. of the dressing and stir to coat.

- Assemble the salad by arranging the potatoes, beans, olives, egg and tuna on top of the salad. Drizzle on the remaining dressing and serve.

*Peter Boyle gives the most perfect way to hard cook and egg so I will share it with you here. Put the eggs in a pan and add enough cold water just to cover them. Bring the water to a boil, wait one minute then remove the pan from the heat and cover for 11 minutes. Drain the water and shake the pan around (sort of like the eggs are doing the hula hoop) to crack the shells really well. Peter Boyle says to just peel them dry, but I think adding some cold water back to the pan and peeling them underwater makes it even easier. Your eggs will be perfectly cooked and the yolks will be a beautiful pale yellow. This method is definitely a keeper.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

From the photograph, it is easy to see why this is your favourite salad.