Salade Niçoise [Niçoise Salad]
Locale: France [Provence]
Source: Joyce Goldstein, Mediterranean: The Beautiful Cookbook
- 6 tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 2 green bell peppers, seeded, deribbed, sliced crosswise
- 2 small bulbs fennel, cored and sliced crosswise (optional)
- 6 green onions, trimmed but left whole, or 1 small onion, thinly spiced
- 6 small artichokes, trimmed, cooked, and quartered, or 12 tiny artichokes, trimmed and cooked
- 0.5 lb shelled young, tender fresh fava or lima beans, cooked briefly
- 3 hard-cooked eggs, quartered lengthwise
- 12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and cut into thin strips, or 2 6-oz cans tuna in olive oil, broken into large flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 0.25 c red wine vinegar
- 0.5 c olive oil
- 12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- fresh ground pepper
- 0.25 c black olives
Salt the tomato quarters. Combine on six individual plates (or one large shallow bowl) tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, fennel, onions, artichokes, beans, eggs, anchovies or tuna.
Crush garlic with a little salt, then whisk in vinegar, oil, basil, and ground pepper to taste. Pour the dressing evenly over salad. Garnish with olives and serve.
There are many variations on this salad, with tomatoes, cucumber, and anchovies or tuna the common denominators. I just happened to pick this recipe, then made many changes to it: omitted the fennel; cut tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, and green onions into smaller chunks (although larger than dice); used canned butter beans instead of favas or limas; used marinated artichokes; added the olives early; didn't have fresh basil so sprinkled a little dried in; forgot the garlic entirely. I won't claim those changes improve the recipe, although the butter beans were nice, and the artichokes saved a lot of work. The recipe is pretty flexible.
Most recipes call for potatoes and green beans. They require cooking ahead of time. With potatoes and green beans I think of this as more of a main dish; without them, it works nicely as a substantial side salad.
I never make this without tuna, which for me is the defining ingredient. I always use canned tuna packed in olive oil. (I've used a can in a lemon-dill-olive oil marinade, which doesn't hurt.) Sometimes I've used anchovies in addition to the tuna.