Salade Nicoise: Cuisine Francaise Part Deux

Part deux of my French feast for book club (to accompany Lentils with White Wine, Herbs and Tomatoes) was a classic Nicoise Salad. Magnifique!

I searched around for recipes that caught my eye, and settled on one from Emeril Lagasse. I’m a big fan of a hearty salad, and a Nicoise salad definitely fits the bill. I love the unlikely combination of salad and potatoes, and the crunchy green beans, tuna and hard-boiled egg add a great diversity of flavor and texture. And the presentation…pretty impressive!

The dressing for the salad was a winner and adds another whole layer of flavor. You may know that a traditional Nicoise salad incorporates anchovies. Wellll, I’m not the biggest fan of anchovies (whole and looking all fishy laying on top of my food). BUT, anchovies have a great way of breaking down and melting into a sauce or dressing, adding salty, tangy flavor without the anchovy weirdness. The anchovy dressing takes advantage of that quality, combining the sharp anchovy flavor with shallots, lemon juice, capers and Dijon mustard…it’s pungent and creamy and acidic — the perfect accompaniment to the fresh flavors of the salad.

This salad can easily be a meal on its own, and would be great for a lunch with friends. Don’t forget the French wine!

TW’s Tips

  • Emeril called for cutting the potatoes into “sticks” — I like how they look better when they’re halved or quartered.
  • If I did this again, I’d skip the onion.
  • Use canned tuna in oil, not water. It makes a huge difference and tastes so much better.
  • You can also use fresh tuna and sear it, and serve it sliced on the salad.
  • The anchovy dressing uses a raw egg. Get over the weirdness and try it. So yummy.
  • I couldn’t whisk the egg well enough so I put the anchovy/garlic paste and egg in a food processor VERY briefly to break it down (don’t over-mix) and then whisked in the rest of the ingredients by hand.

Salade Nicoise 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
  • 1/4 pound haricots verts, or small, thin green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 can chunk tuna in oil
  • 1 large head romaine or Bibb lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • Anchovy Dressing, recipe follows
  • 1/2 pound Roma plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 2/3 cup Nicoise olives
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (optional)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced or halved
  • Chopped fresh herbs, for garnish (parsley, tarragon, chive, etc.)

Directions

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain in a colander, pat dry, and set aside. Add the green beans to already boiling water and blanch until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, pat dry, and set aside.

Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces and combine with chopped fresh parsley and tarragon. Toss with enough of the anchovy dressing just to coat. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as needed. Toss the potatoes and green beans in 1/4 cup of the anchovy dressing. Arrange the lettuce along the side of 4 large plates (or 1 serving platter). Spoon the vegetables along the other side of the plate. Arrange the tuna over the lettuce. Arrange the tomatoes, olives, sliced red onions, and eggs on the other sides of the plates (or serving platter). Garnish with additional herbs if desired and serve immediately.

Anchovy Dressing

  • 1 anchovy fillet, drained
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a medium bowl, mash the anchovy, salt, pepper, and garlic into a paste with the back of a fork. Add the egg and whisk well to blend. (I used a food processor for this first part.) Add the lemon juice and mustard, and whisk well. Add the oils in a steady stream, whisking constantly to form a thick emulsion. Add the shallots, capers and Worcestershire, whisk well, and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Yield: 1 cup

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