Saturday, September 13, 2003

Salad Nicoise Redux


Summer food post #182. Well, maybe not, but lately it's been hot and hot weather requires an appropriate menu. Tonight we had a salad nicoise. If I say "salad nicoise" you probably think of a salad with olives, potatoes, string beans, anchovies and tuna right? Well believe it or not, tuna is not authentic. I heard Jacques Pepin mention this once on TV and sure enough it's true.

According to the definitive source, the Escoffier Cook Book, the instructions are as follows: Take equal quantities of string beans, potato dice, and quartered tomatoes. Decorate with capers, small, pitted olives, and anchovy fillets. Season with oil and vinegar.

For my version of salad nicoise I cooked chinese long beans, boiled potatoes, quartered tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, sliced daikon radish and composed on the plate with olives, tuna, anchovies and dressed it all with aioli. As long as we're not being purists might as well go all out and make it to taste!

So somewhere along the way someone added tuna and it stuck. I'm actually thinking that with some slight variations you could make an Italian antipasto style nicoise salad or a chinese vegetable nicoise salad with a soy vinaigrette each as variations on the same theme. It's the combination of cold vegetables that makes it so refreshing and so perfect for summer anyway, not necessarily the tuna. So by all means substitute, subtract, you can even add lettuce or fresh herbs if you like. And I promise not to report you to the salad nicoise police.