After watching Julia Roberts indulge her appetite for spaghetti bolognese, pizza napoletana and fluffy Italian desserts in Eat Pray Love, I decided to
go back to Italy do some cooking of my own. I’ve had the good fortune to eat at some mind-blowing restaurants this summer, but I’m excited to try out some new recipes and tinker with some old favorites. So, to ease into it, here’s my simple spin on a hearty, healthy Salade Niçoise:
One cup salad leaves (mesclun mix works great here, but you can substitute with whatever you like / have on hand)
2 eggs, boiled and cut into wedges
A handful (100gms) of green beans
A few artichoke hearts in brine, drained
2 plum tomatoes (or other tomatoes, in season) cut into wedges
10 black olives (no big deal if you use green)
200gm canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (you can also use butter beans aka lima beans)
200gm canned salmon in brine or spring water, drained and separated into chunks (you can also use the more traditional tuna)
1 tbs capers
1 tbs chopped tarragon
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil and balsamic vinegar (traditional recipe calls for French Dressing)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
For perfectly boiled eggs, place them in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. There should be enough water to cover an inch above the eggs. Cook over medium heat until the water comes to a boil and then simmer for 3-4 minutes. Drain and plunge the eggs into cold water to stop the cooking process (you don’t want the whites to taste rubbery or the yolks to turn grey). Peel and cut into wedges.
Next, you need to blanch the green beans. Prepare them by washing thoroughly and then snipping the tip off with a paring knife (the stem end tends to be very tough). Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Do not add salt as this will draw water out of the beans. At the same time, ready an ice bath with ice cubes and cold water. Drop the beans into the boiling water and let them cook for 2 minutes. Then drain with a slotting spoon and let them chill in the ice bowl for about 5 minutes. This will halt the cooking process and prevent them from turning soggy.
Arrange the salad leaves on two plates and add the tomato, artichoke, salmon, egg, green bean and cannellini beans. Top with the capers and olives.
To make the dressing, put the ingredients together in a bowl or cup and whisk until blended. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle over the salad and sprinkle with tarragon. Done!
*Note: you can also add back in the sardines as well as red potatoes. I deliberately excluded them from this recipe because sardines are the one thing I absolutely refuse to eat and because cooking potatoes will add 15 minutes to this recipe 😉