"The proper use of imagination is to give beauty to the world..." Lin Yu-T'ang

Friday, August 26, 2011

Salade Nicoise

While I'm working on some art--painting and gluing--I'm taking some time out to enjoy some Salade Nicoise by Julia Child. This has got to be my favorite salad. I found the recipe online (although I've now forgotten where!) I've made it several times this summer and I never get tired of it. As a matter of fact, I find myself craving it! Being a whole meal, with the protein of the tuna (treat yourself and buy a couple of cans of really good albacore tuna--it really makes a difference!) and eggs and the other vegetables, it's so satisfying!
Using the freshest ingredients really makes this salad and in my opinion there's no other way to make it. SaladeNicoise is so colorful with the bright red of the tomatoes, deep green of the green beans, the sunny yellow egg yolks. And the flavors are so mouth-wateringly tangy and delicious, especially with the olives, capers and the freshly mixed vinaigrette. It's best to make this salad ahead a bit and chill as it will absorb all of the flavors, in fact, my family likes it even better the next day. The recipe is below along with the recipe for the vinaigrette. Feel free to tweak it to suit your taste!

Salade Niçoise
From Julia's Kitchen Wisdom, by Julia Child.

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 (below)
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.
Yield: Serves 6

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing
From Julia's Kitchen Wisdom, by Julia Child
This is a bare-bones recipe for the simple all-purpose vinaigrette, which you will vary as you wish. Its beauty lies solely in the quality of your ingredients. Note that you will so often see proportions of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil, but that can make a very acid, very vinegary vinaigrette. I use the proportions of a very dry martini, since you can always add more vinegar or lemon but you can't take it out.
1/2 Tbsp finely minced shallot or scallion
1/2 Tbsp Dijon-type mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp wine vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup excellent olive oil, or other fine, fresh oil
Freshly ground pepper
Either shake all the ingredients together in a screw-topped jar, or mix them individually as follows. Stir the shallots or scallions together with the mustard and salt. Whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar, and when well blended start whisking in the oil by droplets to form a smooth emulsion. Beat in freshly ground pepper. Taste (dip a piece of the salad greens into the sauce) and correct seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or drops of lemon juice.
Yield: For about 2/3 cup, serving 6 to 8

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