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Posts from the ‘Salad’ Category

Salade Nicoise

A Salade Nicoise is a classic French salad named after its birth city of Nice (pronounced neese). I have always loved it for sentimental reasons, but it’s perfect hot-weather fare because every ingredient can be prepared in advance and kept cool, and then you simply assemble the plate. It’s crunchy and salty and zippy, and when you add a pinch of nostalgia, I could make a case that it’s the greatest salad of all time.

In typical French fashion, there is often great debate about what is traditional and what is not in certain classic dishes (in this case, raw or blanched green beans, tuna or anchovies), but I will simply represent the first one I had over twenty years ago, as a college student in Grenoble at an outdoor cafe table, as it remains the one I still make today. There are easy alterations but this is my standard.

The salad is quite simple, it’s roughly six or seven ingredients and a dressing, but it’s about each ingredients’ quality and preparation that makes it a classic.

Dressing:
3T Good olive oil
1T good white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
1T good Dijon mustard
good salt, preferably fleur de sel
freshly cracked peppercorns
Whisk & taste – This is the magic.

Ingredients, for one salad:
Several leaves of lettuce – dark romaine or soft boston lettuce
Ripe tomato, one small or several cherry tomatoes
3-5 Nicoise olives (small, jet-black cured olives, may also be Moroccan olives, never pitted)
One organic hard boiled egg (instruction below)
Several blanched green beans (instruction below)
1-2 anchovy fillets, room temperature (buy jarred if you can find them and don’t be afraid!)
One or two fingerling or small potatoes, boiled – Optional, but since I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like, I add them; also, you can boil the potatoes and add the green beans for the last minute to save time.

When you are ready to plate, tear the lettuce into bite size pieces and top with peeled, sliced egg, sliced potato, sliced tomato, anchovy fillets, green beans, Nicoise olives at the center. Add one or two tablespoons of dressing (always start with less). Et voila! The best extra ingredient, if you’ve got it, is warm alfresco weather to sit and enjoy it outside.

Perfect Hard Boiled Egg:
Place 1-2 eggs in water in pot, bring to full boil, put the lid on, turn the heat off, remove pot from burner and allow to steep for ten minutes. Drain eggs and run under cold water.

Boil potatoes & green beans: Add two or three potatoes to pot with pinch of salt and bring to boil, allow to boil steadily but not furiously for roughly 20min, checking after 15min (especially if potatoes are small) with a fork for tenderness; add green beans for last minute and drain.

Endive & Avocado Salad

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This is one of my favorite winter salads (or spring, or summer, or fall) because it can be chopped and whisked together in minutes and has a short ingredient list: endive, avocado, olive oil, Dijon mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, salt & pepper.

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My affection for it has increased since it is also raw, and as we continue our family’s kitchen remodeling and have no working kitchen (or more importantly no kitchen sink), recipes that are quick and cold are a plus. It begins with the lovely relationship between crispy endive and smooth avocado…

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See how they nuzzle? I love contrasts – in life, in opinions, in friends – and this is no exception. Endive is such a treat: if you’ve never worked with it, buy one and toss into your next salad for a great crispy crunch. Or slice in half lengthwise, braise in a bit of butter and olive oil, then sprinkle with a touch of sugar. Delicious. And avocado adds silkiness and a bit of good fat to the marriage. For this salad, slice the endive lengthwise and then cut into half moons. Halve the avocado (remove pit), make grid with a knife, then scoop out with a spoon. Both can head into a medium sized bowl.

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In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette (a basic french one always has zesty Dijon mustard), and pour over the endive and avocado, stirring gently. Enjoy!

Endive & Avocado Salad

Ingredients:
One head Belgian endive, sliced lengthwise and cut into half moons
One ripe avocado, halved, pitted, cubed and scooped
Add both to medium sized bowl, pour vinaigrette over top, stir gently.

Basic French Vinaigrette:
4T olive oil
1/2t Dijon mustard
1T vinegar (I typically have champagne on hand, but sherry also fine)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional, and only if you have lemons handy)
1T minced shallot (optional)
Pinch salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Whisk all together in a small bowl

Enjoy immediately (both avocado and endive brown quickly once cut or sliced).

Cucumber Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger

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Happy new year! I really enjoy this time of the season, the lull after the holiday excitement, and the refocusing on the new year ahead. The weather is cold and bright here, so I see this zesty, fresh salad as a nice accompaniment to January: crisp, spicy and comforting.

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Red onions get a bit melbowed by a rice wine vinegar, sugar and sunflower oil dressing, but keep their crunch to contrast with the snappy cucumbers and spicy ginger.

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Enjoy and best wishes in 2016.

Recipe: Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi
Cucumber salad with smashed garlic and ginger
Dressing:
3T rice wine vinegar
2t sugar
2T sunflower oil
2t toasted sesame oil

Ingredients:
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1t Maldon sea salt
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
4 small (or 8 mini, or 2 English) cucumbers, peeled
1T toasted sesame seeds
3T chopped cilantro

1. To make dressing: whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

2. Add sliced red onion, mix well and leave aside to marinate for about an hour.

3. Place the ginger and salt in a mortar and pound well with a pestle. Add the garlic and continue pounding until it is also well crushed and broken into pieces (stop pounding before it disintegrates into a paste). Use a spatula to scrape the contents into the bowl with the onion and dressing. Stir together.

4. Cut the cucumbers lengthways in half, then cut each half on an angle into 1/4″ thick slices. Add the cucumber to the bowl, followed by the sesame seeds and cilantro. Stir well and leave to sit for 10 minutes.

5. Before serving, stir the salad again, tip out some of the liquid that may have accumulated, and adjust the seasoning.

Bok Choy, Carrot & Apple Salad

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This is a perfect salad! Five ingredients and the only work required is some matchstick dicing, (which can be quite a calming task) grating and squeezing. The ginger and lemon juice mellow each other and result in a lovely dressing, bright and spicy, tossed with the crunchy, snappy fruits and vegetables. This is basically all you need:

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Bok Choy, Carrot & Apple Slaw (altered slightly from Food Everyday)
Ingredients:
1lb baby bok choy (5-6 heads), halved lengthwise
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
2 large carrots, peeled & shredded (or cut into matchsticks)
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger

Directions:
1. Rinse bok choy under cold water to remove grit, let drain. Cut crosswise into thin strips; place in a large bowl.
2. Add apple, carrots, lemon juice, oil and ginger; season with salt & pepper. Toss.
3. Serve right away, or you can also refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to marry; toss before serving.

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Spring Potato Salad

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My thoughts this week are drifting to Spring’s arrival on Friday. It was a great winter for cooking, lots of new recipes, lots of tinkering with past ones, but the sun’s angle has shifted, clocks have been changed and the snow is finally melting a bit. So this week as I gaze at fingerling potatoes, I’m seeing Spring colors in the form of one of my favorite, simple dishes: potato salad. Violet hued shallots, light green celery, and dark green parsley. Lots & lots of parsley.

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Of course, you’ll want some good sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

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Potatoes, steamed & smashed, skins on, crispy celery, crunchy shallots, mayonnaise, champagne vinegar, and a little salt & pepper. Preferably, all of it still a bit warm from the steaming.

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For me, potato salad is not a summer thing, it’s a spring thing and, if I may speak on behalf of all New Englanders, we are ready for a little Springtime.

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Enjoy!

Watercress, Pistachio, Cherry Salad

Watercress, Pistachio, Cherry Salad

Watercress, dill, cilantro, basil, tarragon, orange blossom water, fresh squeezed orange, pistachios and dried cherries. Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Watercress salad. What an absolute awakening!

Balsamic Wheatberries with Peaches & Prosciutto

Balsamic Wheatberries with Peaches & Prosciutto

I love wheatberries and find them pretty versatile. So with the late summer peaches being so juicy and sweet, I envisioned a hearty, sweet, salty summer grain salad: wheatberries, super ripe peaches, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto and chopped parsley. Yum!

Chopped Summer Salad

Chopped Summer Salad

Radish, cucumber and corn here, but you could add peas, fava beans or whatever crunchy summer vegetable speaks to you. Tossed with vinaigrette of champagne vinegar, mustard, tarragon, minced shallot, salt and pepper. Enjoy!