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Cooking with Ceci: French salad with a spin

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(Photo by Ceci Martinez)

(Photo by Ceci Martinez)

A salad nicoise is a mixture of fresh cooked and raw vegetables. It is of French origin from the region of Niza. Julia Child introduced this salad to the United States. This delicious and healthy recipe can be presented as a main dish. You can use a variety of vegetables – tiny carrots, baby zucchini, peppers, artichokes. No matter what ingredients you use, they should be prepared separately, then arranged nicely on a bed of lettuce.

Note~ A perfect hard-boil egg: on a pot that will comfortably hold all the eggs you plan to cook, add eggs, cover with cold water by 2 inches and cook over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, turn off the heat and cover the pot; for the large to extra-large egg will take 9 minutes. Transfer eggs to a large ice bath for about a minute. Crack, peel and eat, or refrigerate for up to a week.

There a countless tricks to peeling hard-boil-eggs, the key is the ice-water bath, followed by cracking them against the countertop and starting to peel from the wider end where there is an air pocket.

SALAD NICOISE

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 pound crisp green beans, trimmed

6 Yukon medium potatoes

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

12 to 16 Boston lettuce, washed, and dried

4 ripe tomatoes, quartered or ripe cherry tomatoes

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, quartered

1 (8 ounce) can oil-packed chunk white tuna, drained

fresh lemon juice

1 (2 ounce) can anchovy filets

1/2 cup kalamata black olives, packed in olive oil

2 tablespoons capers

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon finely minced shallots

1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped herbs (tarragon, thyme, chervil, or parsley)

Directions:

Steam beans until just done, 3 or 4 minutes (al dente). Rinse under cold water and set aside.

Boil potatoes in their skins until done. As soon as you can handle them, cut into halves. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss the potatoes, green beans and tomatoes and turn to coat well.

Arrange the lettuce leaves on individual plates or a platter. Alternate the dressed beans, tomatoes, and potatoes and add the hard-cooked eggs. Top with the tuna, flake gently, and season with lemon juice and pepper. Drape the anchovies across the vegetables, and a sprinkling of capers. Scatter olives over the top.

Whisk together all dressing ingredients, and drizzle over salad.


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