Recipe: Salade Niçoise with Rosemary Vinaigrette
My Dad worked for General Electric all his life — back when people still did that. During part of his tenure, he belonged to an international division that led to his moving the whole family to Europe for several years. So I was fortunate to experience the vastly differing cultures of Holland, northern Italy and southern France before it was time to return us Stateside after 6 years.
Europe lagged behind the new food trends that were taking place here — Tab and Fresca, marshmallow Fluff, Pop-Tarts, Jiffy Pop, 1-2-3 Jell-o, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Tang, Underwood deviled ham, and the revolutionary Chef Boyardee Pizza Kit. Poor kids, we didn’t get to eat any of these things, and were stuck with the meals our Mom made from scratch three times a day, using local ingredients and recipes.
We lived on Salade Niçoise one summer, when my Mom returned to the States and we basically spent 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, at the pool.
We nibbled something before leaving in the morning, and had dinner with my Dad when he got home from work. In between, we enjoyed the thrill of eating at the cafe/restaurant at the pool every day.
Being in southern France, Salade Niçoise was the star of the menu, and we couldn’t get enough of it. The slightly naughty feeling of lunching without adults, sitting in our bathing suits, reeking of chlorine, and eating this divine combination of sun-drenched vegetables is a powerful memory for me.
What brought these memories flooding back?
A trip to Bizalion’s Fine Foods in Great Barrington — a mecca of fine foods, indeed, that includes genuine Niçoise olives among other gourmet delights like freshly-baked pain au chocolat, Fleur de Sel, runny Camenbert and plump capers. I knew precisely what those glossy black olives would taste like as soon as I spotted them behind the glass case, and I couldn’t wait to dig into the deli container as soon as I was back in my car. It didn’t take more than a moment to decide that Salade Niçoise was starring as my dinner-to-go food for the next Farmers Market!
I’m giving you my recipe below, but a few notes first:
a) I know it’s not authentic without the tuna. Feel free to add all the tuna you want! I just didn’t use any because I wanted to be able to sell this to my many vegetarian customers.
b) ditto, regarding hard-boiled eggs and anchovies.
c) the vinaigrette is completely my making; after all, I’m a spice company, and it only makes sense to use as many of my own products in the prepared foods that I sell. So although “Rosemary’s Chicken” blend is not a typical ingredient, trust me, it’s exquisite in this dish.
d) If you are a complete traditionalist, then I’ll help you out by giving you a truly authentic, Provencal recipe and even instructions on vinaigrette-making from a Frenchman — I’m fair and open-minded. But, I’ll bet mine still tastes better!!
Voila my recipe!
1 1/2 lbs small red potatoes, scrubbed
1 lb fresh string beans, ends trimmed
2 large ripe tomatoes, wedged
1 medium red onion, sliced in strips
1 large red pepper, sliced in strips
1/2 lb Nicoise olives or other good black olives
2 t Dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon (save other half for garnish)
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 t sea salt
1 T Rosemary’s Chicken blend by Your Spice of Life
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Boil the potatoes (whole) in salted water until tender. Remove them from the pan but save the water. Bring it to a boil again and cook the string beans for 2 minutes, just long enough to blanch them. Remove the beans and rinse under cold water (or give them an actual ice bath). Set the potatoes and beans aside.
Prepare the dressing: in a small bowl, combine the mustard and lemon juice. Mix well, then add the garlic, sea salt, and Rosemary’s Chicken blend. Stir. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking to make sure the mustard doesn’t clump up. Set aside.
The salad can be prepared in one large bowl, or portioned out onto plates. Either way, it’s just an assembly job at this point: cut the potatoes into 1/4″ slices, and layer with the green beans, onions, red pepper strips, olives and tomato wedges.
(This is the point where you would add the tuna, anchovies or hard-boiled eggs if you are choosing to include them).
Pour the dressing over the salad, garnish with remainder of the lemon, and serve.
For added pleasure… eat this while wearing a wet bathing suit 😉