Last night, in an attempt to use the leftover produce in my refrigerator, I announced that we would be having a Salade Niçoise. I could not have been more wrong. The only Niçoise in my salad were the olives. While my salad was indeed delicious, and met with strong approval by the husband, it was anything but classic. Smoked salmon replaced tuna, eggs were fried, and fava beans missing all together.
I knew the dressing ( olive oil and lemon ) was wrong, but had little idea of how far I'd strayed from tradition.
"Arrogance is bliss" could have been my motto for the evening, but in the morning my ignorance became apparent. As I began to recount my glorious victory over leftovers, I saw error of my ways. I stand corrected.
Classic Salade Niçoise - ( as indicated by David Lebovitz, 2010)
Makes 2 salads
Unpitted olives are fine if making a salade composée (composed salad), but for ease of eating, you may want to pit them first if making a tossed salad such as this. If you use unpitted olives, especially tiny Niçoise olives, advise guests to watch out for pits.
Although Monsieur Médecin warns away from using any sort of French dressing, you can use a vinaigrette instead. In place of the lettuce, you can use arugula, or mesclun, a mixed of greens, which I’ve seen served in Nice in many restaurants.
2 large, ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced
2 spring onions, or 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup (90g) peeled fava beans
1/3 cup (55g) small black olives, preferably Niçoise olives, pitted or unpitted
1/2 head of lettuce, torn or shredded
3 hard-cooked eggs (see below)
6 tablespoons (90ml) extra-virgin olive oil or French vinaigrette
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper
3-4 anchovy filets, cut into thin strips lengthwise, or a 6 ounces (180g) tin of tuna
1. Rub the clove of garlic all over the insides of a wooden salad bowl.
2. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and put them in a colander. Sprinkle them with salt, and let them drain for a few minutes while you finish the salad.
3. Add the cucumber, onions, fava beans, olives, and lettuce to the bowl.
4. Peel and cut the eggs into wedges.
5. Mix the olive oil with the herbs and a bit of salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes to the bowl and toss most of the dressing with the salad, reserving a bit to drizzle over the eggs. (If using tuna, toss that with the salad as well.) Season with additional salt, if necessary.
6. Place the eggs on top of the salad and drape the anchovy strips over the eggs. Pour the remaining dressing over the eggs.
To make hard-cooked eggs: Begin with room temperature large eggs. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and gently lower the eggs in. Let cook for 9 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and plunk them into a bowl of ice water, cracking the shells a bit after a few minutes, which aids in peeling.
by Jacques Medecin
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