Cooking – Nicoise Salad

A huge hit during the summer, I could eat variations of this almost every day. Perfect for market/harvest season since you can include whatever your stomach tells you to buy at the market. Just steam any greens or vegetables and include them with the cold salad items.

Nicoise salad

Nicoise Salad with slightly sweet Moroccan olives.

This really is a very easy and versatile meal, but after writing it out, it looks complicated. Trust me, it’s not. Basically, it’s just a bowl of whatever is fresh and in season, cold or cooked, chucked in a bowl and finished with feta, herbs and dressing (oil and vinegar).

There are endless variations. Got salmon? Cook it up and have a chunk of that with this instead of tuna. Don’t have feta? Grate/slice/chop some other cheese…or none at all. Don’t want potatoes? It’s great with quinoa or some cannellini beans. I haven’t found a combination that wasn’t a winner.

My Nicoise Style Salad Recipe

  1. Start by putting some halved nugget potatoes (2 to 3 per person) and beets cut into medium pieces/slices in a steamer, add some eggs (1 to 1.5 per person, depending on hunger level) to the water on the bottom and turn it on high. Make sure there’s enough water for the eggs (just less than it would take to float them). Note: I have a wonderful large steamer that sits on top of my pot, so my steaming capacity is good. I don’t know how I ever cooked without one! So, just to be clear, I’m not talking about the poxy kind of steamer that sits in the bottom of a pot, but obviously make do with whatever you have. You’ll figure it out.
  2. The eggs are done when the potatoes are (about 15 mins). Take out the eggs (with tongs or a spoon) and put them into a bowl or measuring cup and fill with cold water and set aside.
  3. Put the potatoes and beets into a bowl and set aside. If the beets aren’t quite cooked, just let them steam a few more minutes. They cook faster when they’re fresh rather than from winter storage.
  4. Add a handful of green beans (topped) and/or yu choi to the steamer and steam until just cooked (about 6 minutes). Remove from heat and remove lid.
  5. Get your bowls out (wide flat bowls, like for pasta, work best) and spread them on the counter.
  6. Then add the following to each bowl, with a little symmetry for added flair:
  • some steamed yu choi or a handful of lettuce/salad greens as a foundation,
  • 1 or 2 baby cukes in each bowl. In long slices (sexy) or chunks,
  • 4 quartered cherry tomatoes or 1 roma divided into 6, in each bowl,
  • some cooked potatoes,
  • some cooked beets,
  • some eggs after peeling, rinsing and quartering them,
  • a handful of cooked green beans (if you have them),
  • ½ (or a third) of a tin of Estevan Tuna albacore in olive oil (save the oil) in each bowl,
  • a sprinkling of pitted olives (Parthenon is the best! Try Moroccan or Nicoise olives),
  • some feta broken up (again, Parthenon is the best! Bulgarian Sheep Feta is my fave and only $1.79 per 100g – their prices and quality for olives and feta can’t be beat),
  • a few ripped up basil leaves, or a sprig of fresh thyme stripped from the stem, or tiny bit of fresh chopped rosemary, or a dash of dried Italian herbs, or (my favourite) a sprinkling of chive blossoms to each bowl,
  • distribute the oil from the tuna amongst the bowls (it’s just the right amount for two), add additional olive oil if needed,
  • pour a gentle zig zag of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (remember: you can’t take it away, but you can always add more),
  • ….and you’re done and ready to impress your peeps with your mad cooking skills. Yo.


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