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Salade nicoise makes its first appearance

July 17th, 2008 · 3 Comments · Food preparation, local food, recipes

I love Nicoise salad (or salade nicoise, as you prefer), and the fruits and vegetables to make it are rolling in. As Michele Humes noted, it’s a dish that has a melange of variations, but I pretty much quit worrying about what’s the “right” way to make it years ago. I’m just happy when I have a bunch of new potatoes and tender green beans and tomatoes to combine with tuna. If I have those items, I have, in my opinion, a Nicoise salad.

That moment finally arrived the other day, with beans and potatoes from Rolling Prairie and tomatoes from my friend Lynn (whose picture I can’t find on her website). I managed to screw up one of those (more in a second), but it still tasted fabulous. I didn’t even realize until I saw Michele’s post that I entirely forgot cooked eggs. And I can take or leave anchovies.

I nevertheless managed to mess up my fairly unpicky expectations. Here’s what I did: steamed and sliced the potatoes, and tossed them with a simple vinaigrette and a few chopped sweet onions; added them to a plate with torn lettuce, steamed green beans, tuna packed in olive oil, and sliced cucumbers. Then I drizzled more dressing over the top:

Do you notice anything wrong?

Yes, it’s the color of the beans. Not so appetizing.

It’s all because I was trying to be quick. For one reason or another, I often seem to be in a hurry to get food on the table and, thus, always on the lookout for quicker methods. That was the case this time. I thought, “Hey! If I steam the potatoes and beans instead of boiling them, I’ll get done a lot quicker because I won’t have to wait for all that water to boil.”

So I put a steamer basket in a big pot with an inch of water in the bottom and added the potatoes. About 10 minutes later I added the beans. I aggravated the situation, I think, by letting the water simmer instead of really boil. The potatoes were fine, but the beans were not so fine.

The beans looked almost like (ugh) canned green beans, even after plunging them ice water. And they didn’t seem as crisp-tender as when dropped into boiling water for 3-4 minutes. And they didn’t have that bit of salt that they get that way. And they weren’t green! At least not bright green. (I was tempted to turn them bright green via my computer so you’d think I made a perfectly beautiful salad but decided to confess instead.)

In case you’re wondering, here’s the dressing I used:

  • Extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar in equal parts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Minced garlic to taste (just a little for a little zip)
  • Prepared Dijon mustard to taste (ditto for zip and emulsion)

If I hadn’t been in a hurry, I’d have added some minced parsley, too, but that would have required going outside.

Two morals of this story:

  1. Salade nicoise is fab, even if you mess it up.
  2. Don’t steam green beans if you want them to be pretty.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Michele

    Thanks for the mention. I don’t think the beans look bad; a French chef would tell you that that’s the only colour to have them. Personally, I am morally opposed to steaming things that aren’t, you know, dumplings. Too many yellowed servings of broccoli at the university cafeteria took their toll.

  • Janet Majure

    Guess I’m not a French chef, but I’m glad one would endorse my bean color. :) Actually, I like steamed broccoli, but not when it’s yellowed or the color of those beans up there!

  • Maxine

    I did notice the beans. But I bet it tasted great! It’s my favorite salad. I like it with broiled salmon the best. Yum!!!!!!!!!!