Salad Nicoise is one of my all-time favourite salads. Named after the wonderful french city of Nice, this salad embodies the best of their regional cuisine.
Whenever I am in Nice I love to go exploring. When walking along the Promenade des Anglais I find it a little odd to see such breathtaking sea views only a few steps away from this cosmopolitan city. I think that is one the things that make Nice so special.
Walking around the city once cannot help but notice the juxtaposition of the traditional architecture with the ultra-modern transportation.
You can walk to the historic old town where you can experience Nice’s world-renowned flower market or the farmer’s market. There are also some lovely antique shops and bakeries hidden around the old town.
I love to spend my time wandering the streets to find interesting sights, sample local delicacies and enjoy outdoor cafes. Every time I have this salad I remember my visits to Nice. I remember dinners in lovely open-air restaurants after dark and I remember sipping a glass of wine in a bar on the beach while watching the waves crash on the rocks.
While recalling trips from years past, I often recall the wonderful meals that we ate along the way.
I decided to pair this salad with an Ontario wine from Hidden Bench winery in the Niagara Escarpment. This wonderful Bistro Rose 2012 has a nose of strawberries, ripe cherries and white flowers. It was a perfect complement to a Mediterranean salad due to its rich, full bodied flavour.
Nicoise Salad with Haricots Vert and Yukon Gold Potatoes
Makes 6 servings
2 lbs. baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
1 lb. haricots vert, trimmed
3 tbsp. red-wine vinegar
1 tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely diced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1 can white tuna, drained well and flaked
2 tsp. capers, rinsed and drained
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup pitted Niçoise or Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
Set the potatoes in a large (6-quart) pot, cover them with cold water by a couple of inches, stir in 2 tbsp. salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the haricots vert and cook until they turn bright green and tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well and cool under running water.
In a blender or food processor, blend the vinegar with the mustard. With the machine still running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream so the mixture comes together into a thick emulsion. Add the shallot, 2 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper, and purée until incorporated. Taste and season the dressing with more salt and pepper if needed.
Add 1 or 2 tbsp. water if needed to thin the dressing to a pourable consistency.
To plate individually, lightly toss the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, and olives with half the vinaigrette and plate; top with the tuna, capers, and the remaining thyme; and serve the remaining dressing on the side.
Wine Pairing: I paired this salad with a bottle of Hidden Bench Bistro Rose 2012
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Fresh and Quick Magazine