Salade Nicoise

These are just a few suggestions for a Salade Nicoise. Add olives, lima or fava beans, artichokes, onions, radishes…if you’re not a fan of anchovies, omit them. Although roasted bell peppers are not traditional, I like them in salads. Bottom line, tailor this salad to suit your tastes and what’s in season, and you can’t go wrong.

Ingredients:

3 to 4 large eggs, room temperature
pint of cherry tomatoes, halved, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper
8 ounces haricots verts (French green beans), stems removed
3-4 red, orange, and/or yellow bell peppers
5-6 small potatoes, boiled until fork tender, sliced in half or quartered
2 small cucumbers or 1 large, thinly sliced
1/2 head of lettuce such as bib, romaine
2 (3-ounce) cans of tuna, packed in oil, drained
5-6 anchovies, chopped in thirds
2 tablespoons capers
handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
Chapons/croutons (recipe to follow)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Medium-to hard-boiled eggs: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and carefully drop in the eggs. Cook 8 minutes for medium-boiled or 9 minutes for hard-boiled. With a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to an ice-water bath. After a few minutes, peel. Slice in half or quarter.

Preparing the haricots verts: Bring a pot of water to a boil, lower to a simmer, drop in the haricots verts for 1 minute. Transfer to a ice-water bath. Drain.

Roasting the bell peppers: Roast the peppers on an open flame (on your gas range or bbq) until charred on all sides. Place in a paper bag for 10 to 15 minutes (to help loosen the skins). Scrape the charred skin, remove the seeds, and slice into thick strips.

Assembling the Salad: Arrange all ingredients in separate rows on a large serving platter; drizzle dressing over all the ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with basil and chapons just before serving.

Vinaigrette
2 small garlic cloves
8-10 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Using a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic with a pinch of salt. Add the basil leave, olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.

Chapons (croutons)
day old bread (such as a baguette)
extra virgin olive oil
garlic powder
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Soak the bread (whole baguette, torn in half lengthwise) in a large bowl with hot tap water until soft and pliable, about 1 minute. Squeeze out as much water as possible, without crushing. Roughly tear into bite-sized pieces. Place on the baking sheet. Toss liberally with olive oil. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Toss until well combined. Bake for 20 minutes, give the pan a good shake, and continue baking another 15 to 20 minutes, until the pieces are well-browned and crisp. Remove from over and let cool.

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