Happy Birthday, Julia!–Celebrate with Salade Niçoise

I don’t know why I haven’t posted Salade Niçoise until now.  It’s one of my favorite dishes.  My thoughts of it were triggered today as I watched several episodes of The French Chef on WLIW’s tribute to Julia Child on the anniversary of her 100thbirthday.  It’s a simple composed salad but exuding what you might expect to be served in an outdoor café in Nice.

My version features French potato salad, cooked string beans, sweet peppers, hard cooked eggs, chick peas, cucumber slices, olives and tuna.  Of course, you might add or substitute cooked asparagus, cooked sliced beets, avocado, anchovies, capers, in short, whatever suits your fancy. The string beans, simmered in boiling water just until they still have a  slight crunch, and the chick peas should be tossed in a little vinaigrette before added to the ensemble.  Your own selections should be placed atop a bed of Boston lettuce also tossed with a small amount of the vinaigrette.  A tablespoon or two of chopped fresh herbs sprinkled on at the end add an  inviting touch.

Many chefs seem to feel that they have to upgrade this classic salad by switching out the canned tuna for fresh grilled tuna.  Personally I prefer the classic version featuring a good quality canned tuna in olive oil.  The accompanying flavors of anchovies, capers  and vinaigrette dressing are complimentary.  The olive oil from the can, having enhanced the flavor of the tuna, is drained and discarded.  Tuna in water has had the flavor leached out of it and tuna in other oils simply lack the flavor of olive oil.  I prepare the potatoes in the style of Julia Child’s French potato salad. An Alsatian Riesling is the perfect accompaniment.

Vinaigrette Salad Dressing:

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic

2 large shallots

1 T Dijon mustard

¼ cup good wine vinegar, red or white

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ c up peanut oil

¼ t freshly ground black pepper

1 t sea salt or kosher salt

Procedure

1. Mince garlic and shallots and place in a bowl.

2. Whisk in Dijon mustard and vinegar.

3. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and peanut oil, whisking vigorously.

4. Add pepper and salt, taste and adjust seasonings.

Julia’s French Potato Salad

Ingredients

8-10- medium boiling potatoes, such as Red Bliss

4 T dry white wine

2 T chicken stock

2 T minced shallots

Procedure

1. Simmer potatoes in water until easily pierced with a knife.  Let cool enough to handle.

2. Peel and slice into 1/8-inch slices.  Place in a bowl.

3. While potatoes slices are still warm, pour on wine and chicken stock and toss gently.  Set aside while potatoes absorb liquid.

4. Add minced shallots and toss.

5. Add 1/3 cup vinaigrette salad dressing. Toss gently to blend.

Photo by sweetpaprika

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