Sunday, January 8, 2012

Nicoise Salad - without the fish

Nicoise salad is a French composed salad typically containing lettuce, haricot vert, potatoes,  anchovies and olives. In the U.S. seared fresh tuna or canned tuna are added to the salad instead of the anchovies and boiled eggs show up as well.

My version is completely vegetarian – I use waxy fingerling potatoes, crisp green beans, fresh juicy tomatoes, tangy olives and spicy red onions, dressed with a wonderful herb packed dressing. This is a hearty salad which works well as a main course.

Nicoise salad without Tuna

12 medium fingerling potatoes
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
handful of kalamata olives - to taste
2 vine ripened tomatoes cut into wedges or handful of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup finely sliced red onion
Basil, thyme and caper dressing (recipe below)

1. Cut the fingerling potatoes down the middle vertically to expose as much surface area to absorb the dressing. If the potatoes are not the same size, cut them to be almost the same size so that they cook evenly. Set up a steamer and steam the potatoes for 10 minutes. If you do not have a steamer basket you could boil the potatoes as well. In that case, cut the potatoes after boiling, otherwise they will lose their structure.
2. Steam the beans for 6 to 8 minutes till they are crisp tender.
3. Arrange the steamed potatoes, beans, tomatoes, onions and olives on a platter and pour the dressing over the vegetables while the potatoes and beans are still warm.

Serves 4 as a side or 3 as a main course

1/2 cup tightly packed basil leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon non-pareil capers rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 clove of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Add all of the above ingredients in a food processor except the olive oil and process till they are combined.
2. Pour in the olive oil with the motor running to emulsify the dressing.

Makes ½ cup – enough for the salad

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