Salade Niçoise gets its name from its hometown, Nice, and it has traveled the globe and lost much of its authenticity along the way. Much like Caesar Salad. You can go all modern and use fresh tuna or tuna confit, but the classic features canned tuna, which we still think is best. This classic version is taken from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, by Julia Child.
Of all the salads which are suitable for a main course at lunch, the Niçoise is my all-time favorite, with its fresh butter-lettuce foundation; its carefully cooked, beautifully green beans; its colorful contrast of halved hard-boiled eggs, ripe red tomatoes, and black olives; all fortified by chunks of tuna fish and freshly opened anchovies. It’s a perfect luncheon dish, to my mind, winter, summer, spring, and fall — an inspired combination that pleases everyone.
- 1 large head Boston-lettuce leaves, washed and dried
- 1 pound green beans, cooked and refreshed [OR ALTERNATE VERSION- try 30 oz. canned cannellini beans drained and rinsed]
- 1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup basic vinaigrette
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 or 4 ripe red tomatoes, cut into wedges (or 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
- 3 or 4 “boiling” potatoes, peeled, sliced, and cooked
- Two 3-ounce cans chunk tuna, preferably oil-packed
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
- 1 freshly opened can of flat anchovy fillets
- 1/3 cup small black Niçoise-type olives
- 2 to 3 tablespoons capers
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter or in a shallow bowl. Shortly before serving, toss the beans with the shallots, spoonfuls of vinaigrette, and salt and pepper. Baste the tomatoes with a spoonful of vinaigrette. Place the potatoes in the center of the platter and arrange a mound of beans at either end, with tomatoes and small mounds of tuna at strategic intervals. Ring the platter with halves of hard-boiled eggs, sunny side up, and curl an anchovy on top of each. Spoon more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers, and parsley, and serve.
Yield: Serves 6