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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Salad Niçoise


Salad Niçoise and I met on a sultry summer evening. From the moment we met, all I could think was: "Where have you been all my life?" True story.
French food. I'm telling you.
Actually, I'm not sure what to tell you about that, except that I love French food -- most of the time.

Moving on.

I really did fall in love with this recipe over the summer, and it's absolutely amazing with summer's fresh produce, but everything we're talking about here is widely available year-round. The hard-boiled eggs, potatoes and green beans can be cooked ahead of time, and the dressing can be assembled days in advance as well. If you have a spare hour on a Saturday, you can have everything ready for a ridiculously quick and satisfying (oh, yeah, and HEALTHY) weeknight dinner.
The potatoes and green beans taste best if they have a soak in the dressing for about an hour, but don't leave them overnight, as they will discolor.

Salad Niçoise
via Simply Recipes

Ingredients:

for the vinaigrette
1/2 c. lemon juice
3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced or finely grated
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil leaves
2 tsp. minced fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and  pepper to taste

for the salad
2-3 cans of tuna, drained -- packed in oil is yummiest
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
10 small, waxy potatoes -- fingerlings work great
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 oz. tender greens, such as butter or bibb lettuce, or spinach (my green of choice)
3 small, ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
8 oz. green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
1/4 c. niçoise olives (I used Luques Olives from Trader Joe's -- delicious!)
1 small red onion, sliced very thinly (optional)

Directions:
Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon (do not discard boiling water). Toss warm potatoes with 1/4 cup vinaigrette; set aside.
While potatoes are cooking, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter (I used two serving platters, shown in the photos). Cut tuna into 1/2-inch thick slices, coat with vinaigrette. Mound tuna in center of lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture on the lettuce bed. Arrange reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.
Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans, transfer to reserved ice water, and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry beans well. Toss beans, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.
Arrange hard boiled eggs and olives in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers (if using), and serve immediately.

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