The Not-So-Nice Nicoise

img_3218Salads. They are always a pain-in-the-ass to transport or make ahead of time. But given my recent weight gain after the Vietnam trip (my god, the street food!), it had to be done.

We had some cans of tuna lying around so I decided to go with a Nicoise Salad. The Nicoise originally hails from the French city of Nice – and anyone who knows the French knows that they aren’t very Nice in Nice. They got burkini problems and shit. Like all things French, this is a very traditional salad originally documented in 1973 by a stuffed-shirt named Jacques Medecin (or Frenchy, as his friends liked to call him) who forbids the use of any cooked vegetables. As I’m reading this after I made the salad, I’m starting to feel decidedly anti-Medecin. But who knows, maybe next time I’ll try the traditional one.

For some reason, my experiences with Nicoise’s have always been as the shitty, beat-down cousin of any good salad (chef’s salad comes to mind). I even had one today, two days after I made the one in this recipe, and it was so sub-par. Somehow the canned tuna is always a poor substitute and they use too much mayo and it gets soggy. But the one in this recipe came out quite nicely, despite the use of the afore-mentioned canned tuna steak. The secret was the “dressing”, which was more like a tapenade, actually.

Tapenade/Dressing

img_3237So lets start with the tapenade/dressing. Its different than a regular dressing in that its mostly made up of chopped veggies with some oil and vinegar rather than a liquid-based dressing. Therefore its quite satisfying to bite down on a chunk of it interspersed with the rest of the salad.

I finely chopped up some sun dried tomatoes, capers and onions, and added them to a mixture of 2 tablespoons EVOO and one tablespoon red wine vinegar. I mixed and mashed to my hearts content, and then added a bit more oil and vinegar as necessary to ensure it wouldn’t coagulate too much in the fridge overnight.

Salad

img_3231.jpgNext I turned the oven on, and after preheating, threw some EVOO on a baking dish, then arranged thickly sliced (about 1 cm) potato slices onto it, and seasoned well. I roasted the potatoes for about 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through. I hard boiled two eggs in the meantime, and shredded some lettuce into bite sized pieces, and drained them in my salad spinner. I opened a can of tuna steak in water and drained half the water.

img_3238Now I didn’t include them, but this salad would taste just as good with some fresh tomatoes, green or red peppers, or artichoke hearts, and although not traditional, cooked green beans are often added in this salad when its served in restaurants. Baby spinach is also a good substitute for lettuce but not available locally. Of course anchovies were the original fish before tuna but either or both will do!

Could we be done? Well yes! Now all that’s left is to put it all together. I keep dressings separate until I’m ready to eat for all my salads to prevent the greens from getting soggy. First the lettuce as a bed, then the cooled-down potato slices. At this point I tossed those lightly with half the dressing, followed by the tuna. The sliced hard boiled egg and a few olives round it out. I mixed the rest of the dressing with the rest of the salad and dug in!

img_3223

Ingredients

Dressing/Tapenade

  • 4 medium-sized sun-dried tomaties, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon divided
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Salad

  • 3 large leaves romaine lettuce, finely chopped
  • 4 medium sized potatoes, thickly sliced
  • 4 olives
  • 1 can tuna steak in spring water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled

Serves 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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