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My better half & I had friends invited for dinner – & it was about 30° C & more. What to do? BBQ – well, yes, but somebody (i. e. my better half) would have to be on the deck, managing the BBQ for some hours while the sun would burn merciless. (Our terrace is south/south-west bound!)
We skipped this approach & opted for a French evening w/ a French salad, French bread, a French quiche, a French cheese platter… I think you get it.
For the salad I remembered salade niçoise, a substantial affair. So I roamed my French cookbooks & found easily what I looked for. For this evening I made a large salad – only to learn 1 week later that my better half asked if we could repeat the salade niçoise affair for the 2 of us.
So I made a smaller version for a dinner for the 2 of us – & documented the process for my blog.
How to proceed?
This salad isn’t just mixing together some salad leaves, some tomatoes, some cucumber slices, some spring onion, adding some cheese or so – we need to prepare some of the components.
Let’s start w/ a list of all the ingredients:
- salad leaves
- green beans
- spring onions
- canned tuna
- black olives
- fresh herbs.
… & of course a vinaigrette.
This means our tasks are now:
- cleaning, peeling, trimming, chopping, mincing, cutting, boiling, cooking…
We prepare the components of the salad.
When all components are ready & we approach dinner time we grab a plate which should be large enough for the salad. Don’t underestimate the volume of the salad!
We start w/ green salad leaves. Either rely on a package from your trusted food store delivering cleaned mixed salad leaves or start from the scratch w/ taking a head of salad apart, cleaning the leaves under fresh water & spin the leaves dry in our salad spinner.
For the record:
You may also mix leaves from more than 1 type of salad.
Let’s have a look at the prepared components eager to join the salad leaves!
We prepared some vinaigrette in our shaker:
- olive oil
- white wine vinegar
- sweet French mustard
- salt & pepper to taste.
Concerning the salad leaves on the large white plate we sprinkle some vinaigrette all over the leaves & add some minced fresh herbs.
For the fresh herbs I had:
- lemon thyme
(Pls let’s not discuss if chives are herbs or whatever!)
This mix was the result of my shopping in my trusted food store in the morning. Of course you may also add tarragon, parsley, chervil … whatever. Make sure that you’ll get a fresh & aromatic mix.
The herbs have to be cleaned, the leaves have to be picked, stems have to be discarded etc. In the end all is minced as finely as possible.
We’ll work w/ the vinaigrette more than once when putting together the salad!
(Don’t use it all up at once!)
Next step is the adding the potato salad.
Therefore we need waxy potatoes which will be peeled, trimmed, cut lengthwise & then into slices. The potato slices are cooked in slated water for about 10 min. They should come out soft, but not mushy.
In the meantime we chop the spring onions, add olive oil & white wine vinegar & salt & pepper to taste. After draining the potatoes the hott mess will be mixed at once w/ the spring onion mess. The dressing shall sink into the hot potatoes.
As soon as the potato slices have cooled down they are ready for use. (More about this later …).
Now there are the green beans…
At first prepare a bowl w/ really cold water & add lots of ice cubes.
Then clean & trim the green beans & cut them in bite-size pieces. Put them into salted boiling water & cook them for about 3 – 5 min. It depends how soft you like your green beans.
Then drain the green beans & dump them into the ice water. As soon as cooled down drain again & pat dry if necessary.
Then distribute over the salad leaves.
Now we add anchovies.
That’s easy: we only need to fish them out of their glass jar & cut them into small pieces – then onto the salad.
It’s time now for a 2nd sprinkling act: sprinkle the vinaigrette all over the salad mess.
Afterwards ad some of the minced fresh herbs …
… & distribute the tuna.
I cut the black olives in nice rings & now they are all over the plate.
For the record:
I used canned pitted black olives – dry olives i. e. no liquids around.
Unfortunately the short of black olives is based on blackened olives. I looked for black olives, but there were only black olives w/ pits.
So you may decide: either black olives w/ pits in the salad or chopped blackened olives w/o pits.
It’s time to add some red color to the salad.
I had small plum tomatoes which were quartered. You may also use cherry tomatoes which you may cut in half.
… & now the rest of our minced fresh herbs are distributed over the salad as well as the rest of the vinaigrette is sprinkled all over the mess.
Finally the hard-boiled eggs which were boiled, plunged, peel & quartered during the preparation phase are arranged on top.
You may serve the salad at once – it’s the best for the mingling of all the components & the vinaigrette. However, you may also store the salad in your fridge for max 30 min or so.
That evening we had this salade niçoise for dinner for the 2 of us w/ some fresh crispy baguette. It was still summer & we had an early dinner – so there was no need of storing the salad anywhere.
What to do if …
You can prepare all the components beforehand & store them separately – each in its own container – in the fridge. Don’t add any vinaigrette to any of the components before arranging the salad!
If all components are ready it’s only about 10 min or so to create the salad.
Concerning the potato salad:
Give the potato salad a chance to mix thoroughly w/ the flavor of the spring onions, the olive oil & the white wine vinegar. Best is preparing the potato salad 1 day in advance & let it all rest in the fridge.
The photos in this post show a salad for 2 people, however, a full dinner. There is no obstacle simply to double the amounts of the ingredients in order to create a salade niçoise for more than 2 people or place a large plate on a buffet … (although when hanging around for some hours the vinaigrette will work especially on the green salad leaves & turn them squishy.
- 100 g green salad (mixed leaves)
- 150 g green beans (before trimming)
- 130 g cooked tuna in olive oil (1 can)
- 6 small tomatoes
- 6 - 8 black olives
- 3 - 4 anchovies
- 2 eggs (hard-boiled)
- 1 handful mixed fresh herbs (parsley, chives, dill, oregano, thyme, tarragon ...)
- 200 g waxy potatoes (peeled & trimmed & cooked)
- 2 - 3 spring onions
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- salt & pepper
- 6 - 8 tbsp olive oil
- 3 - 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp sweet French mustard
- Peel & trim the potatoes, cut into halves; then cut into slices (of about 5 mm).
- Cook in salted water for about 10 min; the potatoes should be soft, but not mushy.
- Trim & chop the spring onions. Add olive oil & white wine vinegar.
- Drain the potato slices & mix the hot (!) potatoe mess w/ the spring onion mess.
- Add salt & pepper to taste & let it cool.
- Prepare a bowl w/ cold water & lots of ice cubes; set aside.
- Trim the green beans & cut them into bite-size pieces.
- Cook the green beans in salted boiling water for about 3 - 5 min.
- Drain the green beans & dump into the ice water.
- Drain once again after the green beans are cold.
- Prepare the mixed herbs: clean the herbs, pick the leaves, discard the stems etc.
- Mince the mixed fresh herbs; you'll need about 3 - 4 tbsp minced fresh herbs.
- Boil the eggs until hard-boiled (about 10 min); peel them & cut them into quarters.
- Drain the cooked tuna & pull to pieces.
- Drain the anchovies & cut into halves.
- Chop the black olives.
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters.
- Clean & trim the salad leaves, put them in the salad spinner & spin.
- Mix olive oil, white wine vinegar & sweet French mustard into a fine vinaigrette. (Best: grab your shaker!) Add some salt & pepper to taste.
- Take a plate large enough & distribute the salad leaves. Add some minced fresh herbs & sprinkle the mess w/ vinaigrette.
- Distribute the potato salad & the green beans.
- Add the anchovies, some minced herbs & sprinkle some vinaigrette over the whole mess.
- Distribute the tuna, add the black olives & the tomatoes.
- Once again add some minced herbs & sprinkle some vinaigrette all over the mess.
- Add the hard-boiled eggs.
- Serve at once or let it rest in the fridge for max 30 min.