Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Salade Niçoise (Vegetable salad Provençale, garnished with tuna, anchovies and egg)

Salade Niçoise (nee-SWAHZ) is a classic salad that seems light but is filling enough to be a main-dish meal. With all the different colored vegetables on the plate, it makes for a beautiful presentation.

Niçoise salad contains tuna and egg as the protein with a ton of vegetables thrown in that are drizzled with a vinaigrette.

Instead of canned tuna, I decided to buy a slice of fresh tuna from a local fishmonger. It tastes so much better than canned tuna.

Hard-boiled eggs
I used regular farm eggs, but I checked Thomas Keller's French Laundry Cookbook, and he uses quail eggs. His take on Niçoise salad is unique, as is everything he does. Very inspiring.

Watch a pro hard-boil eggs.

Butter lettuce, green beans, yellow beans, red pepper, yellow pepper, orange pepper, red tomatoes, red potatoes, white potatoes, and red onion. The rainbow of colors makes this salad a thing of beauty. There are other vegetables you can use instead, such as artichokes, cucumber, fava beans, or fennel. Different lettuce can also be used, such as frisée or romaine.

Of course, Niçoise olives are the ones to use in this salad, but another option from brainchild Thomas Keller is a tapenade, which is a purée of olives, capers, and olive oil.

As I learned for the Frisée aux lardons, a vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Flavorings such as mustard, salt, and pepper are sometimes used. Always whisk the vinegar and flavorings first, and then whisk in the oil. The dressing is usually drizzled over the top or served on the side.

Playing with presentation
Since this salad is part of the “composed” family of salads (or salade composée, in French), it’s a good one to practice food-presentation skills. You can arrange the plate, play with color, and introduce shapes such as rings, hearts or whatever suits your fancy.

Watch a pro
Here’s a video on how to make Salade Niçoise.


adapted from Le Cordon Bleu at Home

Serves 2

2 eggs, hard-boiled, cut in half or quarters
1 7-8 ounce slice of tuna (or 7-ounce can)
2 small new potatoes (I used one red and one white for color), cut in half or quarters
2 ounces green beans
2 ounces yellow beans
5 grape tomatoes, cut in half
½ red, yellow, and orange bell pepper, cut into julienne
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
1 head butter lettuce
2-4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
4-5 black olives (preferably Niçoise or Kalamata), pitted

1½ tablespoons white-wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

To hard-boil eggs, place them in a pot of cold water deep enough to cover eggs by at least 1 inch. Bring water to a boil. Turn off heat and cover. Let stand for 11 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a cold water bath. When eggs are done, plunge them into bath to cool. When eggs are cool, dry them off, and peel them.

Cook the potatoes in salted water for about 15 minutes, drain, and cool.

Trim the beans, and cook in boiling salted water for about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set in an ice bath.

Make the vinaigrette. Whisk the vinegar and flavorings, and then add the oil. Whisk to combine.

Sear the tuna for 1-2 minutes on each side. Slice.

Arrange the salad. Drizzle with vinaigrette or serve on the side.
Tasting Notes
This is a simple, but satisfying salad. It’s a fun salad to play around with, but since the ingredients are all so beautiful, it’s hard to go wrong.

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Running total: $261.55 + $19.87 = $281.42 (That tuna was expensive, but it was worth it!)

Butter used so far: 4 pounds, 19.5 tablespoons


Gretchen Noelle said...

Beautiful photos, informative post. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I want to make this salad and I want to eat this salad, but now I am intrigued with the delicate photos and how the light plays on the brown and white eggs (2nd photo)and how the almost transparent lines on the purple onion shine through. Is this natural lighting?? What delicious photos!

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God. You are a food artist. I generally don't give alot of attention to salads but you make this one look and sound so yummy!