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Salade Niçoise

La Petite Maison Verte: Salade Niçoise

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Salade Niçoise

There is nothing quite like Spring.  After a dreary, cold and gloomy winter (well, not really in Florida) to see the first signs of springtime:  daffodils, spring peepers, robins....these are some of my favorite things ("the hilllls are aliiiveee!")

With the warmer weather comes more skin showing and a heightened awareness of the coming bathing suit season.  I start to turn away from the heartier fare of the Fall and Winter and start looking forward to lighter, yet still filling salads, fresh spring vegetables and meals cooked outside on the grill.

This Spring adaptation of Salade Niçoise comes from Bon Appetit (one of the magazines I bought second hand at a thrift store for $.27) and both Brian and I thought it was fabulous.  I served it for dinner one night a few weeks ago along with slices of lightly buttered French bread, but of course.

This brought me back to the first time I had Salade Niçoise, fittingly, on my first trip to Paris in May 2005, although I think the French version contained haricot vert, tomatoes and olives, whereas this substitutes fresh spring asparagus and lightly fried capers in their place.  The addition of radishes is tres French and whenever I eat them I think of little French school children snacking on toasted baguettes with butter and sliced radishes, sprinkled with salt and pepper after school...

After serving this for dinner, I had leftover potatoes and vinaigrette.  I combined the two and it made a lovely vinaigrette potato salad that we ate for the next couple of days.  Such a fresh take on the usual mayo-laden staple of summer barbecues, I would make this again in a heartbeat.

What really made this salad special was the hardboiled eggs.  They were gifted to us by a co-worker of Brian's who has a couple of hens.  They were so fresh and amazing, really, if you can get your hands on some fresh, cage-free eggs, they truly make all the difference in the world.

Salade Niçoise
serves 2-3  
adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2009


2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 a small shallot, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon local honey
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


3/4 pound asparagus, bottoms of the stems peeled
1/2 pound small red potatoes, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup capers, drained and patted dry
6 ounces mixed greens
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
2 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
6 ounce can tuna packed in oil, drained

To serve on the side (optional)

Crusty loaf of french bread or baguette
High-quality butter, at room temperature
Fleur de sel

Make the vinaigrette

Puree the first 5 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Gradually add the olive oil with the machine running, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Chill.

Make the salad

Cook asparagus in a large skillet of boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 minutes.  Transfer asparagus to a baking dish full of ice water to cool, then drain and pat dry.  Set aside and chill until ready to assemble salad.

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Season the water generously with salt.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are just tender, 10-15 minutes.  Drain and cool for 5 minutes.  In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes very gently with about 2-3 tablespoons of the prepared vinaigrette and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Let stand at room temperature while preparing other salad components.

In a small skillet or sauce pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add capers and fry until crisp and they open like flowers, stirring often, about 1 minute.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the capers to a paper towel to drain.  Let stand at room temperature while assembling salad.

Place the asparagus into a large bowl and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette, toss gently to coat.  If the potatoes are dry, add one more tablespoon of vinaigrette and toss make sure they are evenly coated.  Toss the mixed greens and radishes in a bowl with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette to coat.  Spread the greens and radishes onto a large platter.  Arrange the potatoes, asparagus, chopped boiled eggs and tuna on top of the greens.  Sprinkle with the fried capers and serve with additional vinaigrette and some crusty french bread on the side that has been generously buttered and sprinkled with the fleur de sel.


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