This typical French salad is in harmony with the cooking style of the sunny city of Nice in Provence. It is best when prepared with fresh vegetables. Regional variations have been created, incorporating fava beans or artichokes and adding tuna, potatoes, boiled eggs and crispy lettuce.
A salad Nicoise is really popular with the French at lunchtime in summer, but it also makes for a wonderful evening meal as well.
The salad is well-rounded and, in fact, you can consider it a complete meal. Like the French, eat it slowly and savor the flavors. This very eye-appealing meal is packed with vitamins and nutrients. I know there are a lot of ingredients but this meal is so worth the effort to assemble it. Enjoy!
NICOISE SALAD (four servings)
3 large eggs, hard-boiled and cut in half lengthwise
1/2 pound baby Yukon or red potatoes, halved if large
10 ounces haricots verts or green beans (buy frozen if you can’t find fresh)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons capers, drained and patted dry with a paper towel
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or rice or white wine vinegar)
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped dill sprigs, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups mixed greens
8 ounces tuna fish packed in olive oil, drained
8 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 avocados — peeled, pitted and quartered, sprinkled with lemon
4 ounces Greek or black olives
1/2 cup pickled radishes (plain is fine)
1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. When the water reaches a boil, place the potatoes in the pot and set a timer for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, add the green beans to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. By then, the potatoes should also be cooked through. Check them by inserting the tip of a knife into the center—it should slide in easily. Continue cooking for a couple more minutes if the potatoes are not done, then drain the potatoes and beans in a colander and submerge in ice water until cool, about 3 minutes.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the capers (they might spatter) and cook for 1 minute, then spoon them over the eggs, which you have placed in once corner on a large platter.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining olive oil with the vinegar, mustard, dill and salt. Toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Transfer to the large platter, nest to the eggs.
4. Finish building the salad, starting first with the mixed greens. Cover the rest of the platter with the greens and place the rest of the ingredients in small piles on top of them. Some people mix the salad on the platter. I prefer to serve it as is and let individuals choose their own ingredients. Plus, it makes a beautiful presentation, unmixed. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the rest of the salad and serve.
NOTE: Many add cannellini beans to this salad — your preference. Also, if you don’t have fresh dill, use ground dill but only 1 tablespoon.
(Candy Work is a certified physician assistant and a registered dietician. She has practiced at Olean Medical Group since 2015.)