Few dishes symbolize the south of France like salade Niçoise. Although you may not think you like anchovies or capers, they do add to the layers of flavor without being obvious, so try them. You can also build on the basic ingredients to personalize the salad—sliced radishes, red onion, pimentos, and artichoke hearts are just a few of the popular additions. Need a picnic option? Turn this into the classic sandwich of Nice, the pan bagnat, by simply packing all the ingredients into a tranche of a baguette or a crusty whole wheat roll.
For the vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar of Modena
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
- 1 tablespoon fine salt
- 1 pound red potatoes
- 1 pound haricots verts or string beans, trimmed
- 4 cups greens, any varieties
- 12 ounces freshly grilled tuna or 2 large cans tuna, drained
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, halved
- 1 cup Niçoise or other small black olives, pitted
- 8 anchovy fillets, drained
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- Fleur de sel or grey coarse sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Make the vinaigrette: in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, balsamic, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic. Add the oil and whisk continuously until the dressing is emulsified. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the fine salt. Add the potatoes and boil for 15 minutes, then add the beans and boil everything for another 3 minutes. Strain the vegetables and wait until cool enough to handle. If the potatoes are small, cut them in half; if large, into quarters.
To assemble the salad, choose either one large platter or individual plates. Start with the lettuce, then arrange, in sections, the potatoes, green beans, tuna, tomatoes, eggs, olives, and anchovies, plus any other veggies you choose to add. Sprinkle on the capers and dress everything with the vinaigrette. Finish with the fleur de sel or coarse grey salt and pepper.
Yields 4 servings