I was extremely lucky to travel every summer growing up. We used to cross the pond and spend a few weeks on the old continent, notably to visit my granddad in Nice, France. His flat was our base camp, the doorstep, for my siblings and I, to a new world. I was there introduced to the freshest, seasonal fruits, off-putting long-conservation milk and heavenly fresh bread. My taste buds developed, experienced new flavors and got more curious on each trip.
The Nicoise salad is probably one of the most famous dish from the region, although, throughout the years, I’ve never had one in a restaurant there. It always felt too touristic. But I’ve savoured it at dinner parties and family gatherings. The homemade versions of such an uncomplicated dish is often best and more authentic than what you would get at a restaurant anyway and I’m excited to share this piece of my childhood with you.
Made out of simple ingredients, with the right balance of vegetable and proteins, it makes for a very satisfying meal. And with this amazing dressing, they are all tied-in beautifully. The only thing you might miss is the pebble beach, the scorching sun or the azure sea.
This dressing is so fragrant it will fill your whole kitchen with the sweet smell of basil. I wasn’t able to stop licking my fingers clean while making it.
I wish I could call this recipe my own but I got this particular one from Felicity Cloake. If you wish to learn more about the famous Niçoise salad, and the musts and don’ts of chefs, I recommend giving her article a read here.
- 1 egg
- 150g Extra fine Green beans
- 1/2 small Cucumber
- 16 Cherry tomatoes
- 1-2 Spring onions
- 8-10 Black olives (Kalamata)
- 1 can Tuna, in water
- A few basil leaves
- Small handful Salad leaves
- 1 small Garlic clove
- Pinch Sea Salt
- 2 Anchovies
- Small handful Basil
- 1/2 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
- 3-4 Tbsp Olive oil
- Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook the egg for 8 minutes. Add the green beans and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- In the meantime, peel and remove the seeds of the cucumber and cut into half moons. Pit and roughly tear the black olives. Cut the tomatoes in half and reserve all.
- Open and drain the tuna can, wash a few salad leaves and keep aside.
- Once cooked, drain the green beans and egg and put them quickly under cold water to stop the cooking. Keep aside to cool further.
- Prepare the dressing in a mortar and pestle. Pound a garlic glove with a pinch of coarse sea salt until you have a smooth paste. Follow with the anchovies and then the basil leaves until paste is smooth. Add the vinegar and the olive oil as you go and season with black pepper.
- Peel the egg and cut into quarters.
- Divide all the ingredients in two portions. Reserve half for the next day and store (see lunch tip below).
- Toss all the ingredients together with the dressing and dig in straight away.
- If using large tomatoes I would recommend to seed them or they’ll make the salad too watery.
- Adjust the cooking time of your green beans according to their size and type or if frozen. Simply add them to the pan of boiling water sooner if necessary.
- I used to remove the anchovies of any recipes I made or dish I ordered at the restaurant, all because I didn’t like strong fishy taste. No one likes their food to taste too fishy and I assure you anchovies don’t do that. They are essential here and I beg you to give the vinaigrette a try before doing without. Like in a good Cesar salad dressing, anchovies add a dept of flavor that cannot be replaced by something else.
- Salads make great and easy lunches but they don’t last very long once dressed and carrying a small container filled with vinegar and oil in my bag is a cause for great concern. I’m sure you’ve all heard about “salad in a jar” before, this is no news, but I thought I’d remind you of how great this is. By layering the salad in a tall container, from the most resistant to acidity and moister to the weakest component, they can last in the fridges for a few days. And with so many thing between the dressing and the lid leakage are less likely to happen.