Salade Niçoise

The sad truth is, most of what you see billed as salade Niçoise in restaurants or on cooking blogs is far from the real deal. I came across a brilliant article by a native resident of Niçe that explained in detail how beautifully simple – and complicated – the original, authentic salad is, and why green beans, boiled potatoes, cucumbers, and so on, have no place in it. You can check it out here – http://www.lemanger.fr/index.php/salade-nicoise-vraie/

The other sad truth is, a real salade Niçoise is then nearly impossible to recreate outside of Nice, or at least southern France. It’s all about the regional ingredients, the olives and peppers native to the area, the locally-caught anchovies or tuna, and so on.

But not to be outdone, I followed the recipe with the closest approximations I could find in northeastern USA, and, accompanied by some homemade garlic bread**, still ended up with a darn good supper worth repeating during these hot summer months.

So without further ado, here’s my take on it:

Large plate rubbed with one large halved garlic clove (then minced for the garlic bread)
One quartered, de-seeded, and very thinly sliced Italian sweet pepper as the base.
A very thinly sliced celery heart scattered over top.
Half a jar of Pastene’s marinated baby artichokes.
One tomato de-seeded and cut into wedges.
A dozen or so olives of choice, I used kalamata but if you can find some black Nicoise ones, kudos.
One can of Pastene tuna/tonno in olive oil.
A chiffonade of a few scallions and two large fresh basil leaves.
A vinaigrette of 2 parts good extra virgin olive oil to 1 part red wine vinegar, with a spoonful of Dijon mustard, garlic powder, and kosher salt.

** Garlic bread recipe: one soft French baguette from the local grocery store, split lengthwise, slathered with a mixture of unsalted butter, olive oil, fresh-minced garlic, kosher salt, and dried oregano, toasted in a toaster oven for 10 min then broiled for 1-2 min.

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