Salade Nicoise

This classic composed salad originated in the French city of Nice (literally, it means, “Salad of Nice”). Nice is on the Mediterranean coast, and the ingredients of this salad are typical of the Mediterranean style of healthy eating–fresh seasonal vegetables, olives and fish.  Make this when it’s hot outside, and serve it with crusty bread, some white wine and your best friends.

Boston lettuce
1/2 lb. green beans, cut in half lengthwise
1 lb. baby Yukon gold potatoes
4 eggs, hard cooked and cut in half
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 fennel bulb, halved lenthwise and thinly sliced
2 (6 oz.) cans water-packed tuna, either albacore or chunk light, drained
1/4 cup Nicoise or Kalamata olives, pitted
2 T. fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Vinaigrette (see recipe in sidebar)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and run them under cold water to stop cooking. Set them aside.

In the same pot, boil the potatoes until they are just tender. Drain and set aside.

Cover eggs with water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil one minute and then cover and turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain and run under cold water.

Line a large platter with Boston lettuce leaves gently torn into large pieces. Place potatoes in the center and surround them with green beans.

Layer tomatoes, fennel, and other vegetables on top. Use your imagination to make it colorful and visually appealing. If you’re not a fennel fan, skip it. (But do give it a try first. It’s really refreshing and will pleasantly surprise your guests with its taste of anise!)

For the final layer (see photo at top of page) add the tuna in big chunks, eggs, olives, and a generous sprinkle of chopped green onion and parsley. Classically, Salade Nicoise ingredients are tossed with vinaigrette individually before they are layered onto the salad, but I skipped this step and let guests add their own vinaigrette at the table. That way you can use as much, or as little, dressing as you like. Leftovers keep better too.

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