Waking Up to Authentic Niçoise Salad...Bonjour!

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The view from our window. Man, I miss buildings.
Just kidding. That was sarcasm.

Sleeping in after the previous night's porcini mushroom bonanza, we awoke slowly, contentedly—and definitely not until breakfast was over. Oops? It looks like the only option for us was to begin preparing lunch. The struggle of life continues!

Happily, we found ourselves introduced to the classic Niçoise (nee-swah) Salad. It's wildly simple to put together, but throw the tag "Niçoise" in front of it, and you've suddenly created a French masterpiece. Our version was a little different from the standard as we were out of some things, but the traditional & authentic recipe is written here. The beauty of this salad is that you can basically throw on whatever you like as long as you keep an eye on the central idea, which is essentially freshness and simplicity...bon apetit

Niçoise Salad
Meaning, you guessed it, salad from Nice, France...Bienvenue!
Ingredients 

  • 2 heads lettuce (I recommend Boston or Bibb.)
  • 2 cans troll-/pole-caught tuna*
  • 4-5 beautiful red heirloom tomatoes (or about 1/2 pound), cut bite-size
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered pole-to pole, or sliced into rounds
  • 6-8 oz thin green beans (haricots verts), trimmed and halved
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1/3 cup pitted French black olives (Niçoise ideal!)
  • 4-8 anchovy fillets 
  • 2 tbs capers (optional)
  • 1 pound potatoes (I recommend Red Bliss) boiled and cut into wedges 
  • 2 ears of corn (skip the corn and potatoes if you're short on time)
  • Vinaigrette (see recipe below) or EVOO, balsamic, and red wine vinegar for serving

  • french salad
    Our Petit Niçoise in-the-making
    Directions
    If using potatoes, boil until tender. Remove, keep water rolling, and blanch green beans in the boiling water until tender but still crisp, 3-5 minutes. Move to ice bath, drain, and set aside. Use the boiling water to cook the [shucked] corn for about 6-8 minutes--don't let it get mushy! Once cool, strip off the kernels with a sharp knife.

    As for the rest, I could go into specifics, but just assemble this salad the way that suits you. Good ingredients will lead to good flavors. Often you'll see all the ingredients sectioned off atop the greens, and the anchovy fillets decoratively lain across, beckoning you to come chow down. But you know what? Follow your heart.

    Because the dressing could get lost among all the ingredients if pre-applied, I suggest putting the dressing on the side and letting people dress their own portions.

    Vinaigrette Recipe (adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
    Whisk the following ingredients together...you know what to do after that.


  • 3/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • Splash red wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tbs finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbs minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tbs minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • Salt & Pepper

  • french salad
    The display-all-ingredients method, courtesy of this blog.
    Wait..who put those chickpeas there!?
    * As it turns out, the Chowgypsy has a pretty strong stance on what tuna you choose buy (surprise, surprise...). Allow me to explain: Most canned tuna is caught by a "long line" method, wherein a long line with many attached hooks is dropped into the ocean to float and catch tuna. What really happens during this process, according to Tristram Stuart's book, Waste, is that "this longline, which can be up to 78 miles long with thousands of hooks, "gives rise to a discard rate [of non-tuna specimens] more than 71 times greater than fishing for [tuna] on an ordinary pole and line...

    ...Some new "'dolphin-friendly' methods of catching tuna, which can involve surrounding and scooping up entire marine habitats, can actually kill even more kinds of other fish, turtles, and sharks. For 15, 721 tons of tuna caught using these dolphin-friendly methods in the eastern Pacific, fishing fleets killed 15,737 tons of sharks, rays, and other fish--a by-catch rate of over 50 per cent. By-catch tuna fisheries regularly includes critically endangered and vulnerable species such as [five types of] sea turltles, minke and humpback whales, great white sharks, sting rays...mako, hammerhead, and numerous other types of shark" 

    Visit the Montery Bay Aquarium's site for more information on which tuna purchases are sustainable and information on any other marine dweller 

    You have the ingredients, you have the tuna knowledge. I release you.
    gironde wine
    Our happy little eating place
    Soon we head back to Le Bugue for more work on the garden...I'll miss you, wine country.
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    Care to take a stroll?
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