Born in Nice, it is only fair that my first published recipe on this blog should be Niçoise Salad (Pronounced: ni-soa-ze).
This summer dish is one of my favourite, for it is fresh, tasty and filling, and is easy to prepare (can also be made as a sandwich, called: Pan Bagnat), and incorporate most of the Provence available produce. Provence, originally a Greek colony, was incorporated into France in the 15th century, and its world famous cuisine is influenced by its proximity to Italy and the local Mediterranean ingredients – somewhat, not typical of the rest of France.
Together, with the famous lemon tart, Niçoise Salad recipe has been changed, made into trendy versions with incorporating fancy fish and selfish, or as a main meal by adding potatoes, but the base remains the same.
The traditional recipe only uses raw food (only eggs are cooked); however, I always add very fine French beans for added fibre.
Recipe for 6: use seasonal Organic produce as much as possible
4 Each Rock Lobster tails (may be replaced by Large prawns, fresh tuna steaks…)
1 Tin Tuna in brine or spring water
6 Each Ripe and firm tomatoes
3 Each Eggs (Hard-Boiled)
0.100 Kg Very fine French beans
1 Each Sweet Green Pepper
3 Each Spring onions
2 Handful Mesclun (or mixed baby salad leaves, Rocket or Mizuna)
12 Each Anchovies (my favourite are anchovies marinated in olive oil - found in most supermarket)
1 Handful Black Olives
3 Each Small Artichokes (or marinated artichokes)
1 Each Celery Heart
1 Each Small Cucumber
French Vinaigrette (Dressing):
1 Tsp Dijon Mustard (I also add 1 Tsp of Wholegrain mustard for a sweeter taste)
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
6 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Place eggs in boiling water and stir them occasionally (so the Yolk remains centred, and looks much better once sliced. If you prefer wedges, don’t worry too much about it) until cooked (10 minutes). Empty water from the pan, shake the pan to break the eggshells (steam will escape – making it easier to peel) and fill pan with cold water. Once, the eggs have cooled, peel shells.
In a bowl make the dressing. Add mustard first, then salt and pepper, (salt does not dissolve in Alcohol or fat), whisk, add vinegar, then oil. Add 1 Tbsp of hot water if you are not going to use it straight away – it will keep the dressing from splitting (vinaigrette is an emulsion after all). Add the Finely chopped spring onions to dressing.
Take Lobster Tails and use a sharp chef knife and cut the tails in half – lengthwise. You can marinate tails quickly to get fuller flavour (Half a lemon juice, salt, pepper, oil, and any fresh herbs you fancy). Place on the grill and cook on both side for 5 minutes. Let to rest, and cover with cling film once cool to avoid drying.
Clean Artichokes (pick hard outer leaves – keep young and tender leaves, usually yellow with purple tip), and slice.
Place Very fine French beans in boiling water – they cook in one minute. Place immediately in icy-cold water.
Slice or cube the tomatoes, or cut wedges if you prefer. Do the same with the green pepper and cucumber. I tend to cube them, so that they are easier to eat.
Crumble tuna – if you have use tuna in oil, use oil to make the dressing.
Just before serving, warm lobster tails (150˚c – 5 minutes – brush with left-over marinade to avoid drying) and mix all the other ingredient inside the bowl with the dressing.
Serve the way you think is best – a plate, a pasta plate, a bowl… It is up to you. The picture can give you an idea of presentation, but if you prefer to keep it simple – Like I usually do on a Sunday evening – eat out of the bowl. Although, it only works if you don’t want to share.
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Olivier is a Michelin trained chef, a registered Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist, embracing fully his passion for good food and healthy eating.