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Salade Niçoise – – Mediterranean flavors

This is a composed salad that can be taken in many different directions. Traditionally, in the French Riviera city of  Nice, the salad contains tomatoes, black olives, garlic and anchovies in addition to green beans, onions, tuna, and hard boiled eggs. We incorporated potatoes into this recipe which when tossed while warm in the vinaigrette, soak up the great flavors. Only use the freshest of ingredients.

Note that this salad takes some planning. Analyze the number of ingredients that will be used, the size of the platter, and plan their placement. Traditionally, in this salad ingredients are kept together by type in mounds. You can manipulate it to your liking. This is a wonderful dish to set out on a hot summer day for people to pick at over time and serve with a nice crisp rosé.

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad

  • 3 cans of tuna, preferably packed in oil
  • 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved
  • 10 small new red potatoes, each potato scrubbed and either halved or quartered
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into fourths or eighths, depending upon size
  • 8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup niçoise olives
  • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed (optional)

Procedure

Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in large bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. Note: The use of the large bowl is so that ingredients can be tossed in the vinaigrette, removed and then plated. The remaining vinaigrette will be drizzled on top of the finished salad.

Toss the lettuce in the vinaigrette and layer on the bottom of a serving platter, creating a “bed” for the other ingredients.

Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold and well-salted water to boil in a large pot. Cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer potatoes into the vinaigrette bowl with a slotted spoon (do not discard boiling water). Toss warm potatoes in the vinaigrette; and place in an area on the platter.

Return water to boil; add green beans. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans, and transfer to an ice-bath, and let stand until cool, about 2 minutes; dry beans well. Toss beans in the vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange on the platter.

Arrange the balance of your ingredients on the platter. Sprinkle the capers evenly over the platter, if using. Season your platter with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrettes evenly on the platter so each item gets a fair amount. A nice touch is to also put fresh lemon quarters at various places along the permitter of your platter so guests can squeeze over the tuna.

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