Flagship of the culinary heritage of Nice, SALADE NICOISE is present on the tables of restaurants in the five continents, but what crimes (to taste) do we not commit in its name!
Salad Nicoise is made with all the sauces and the specialty of Nice is too often synonymous with salad. But there is nothing “Nice” and everybody there will tell you, the Nicoise salad contains no cooked vegetables. Out the boiled potatoes and other beans!. Raw vegetables, as vegetables. Only the eggs are cooked.
The truth is that it varies over the seasons and fava beans will be present there in the spring when they are young and crisp; also true for small artichokes that are not consumed before their beards grow.
Symbol of the South of the Mediterranean, Provence, a nature morte dazzling with bright colors, like those which have so fascinated Cézanne, Renoir, Bonnard, Matisse who came to paint the Riviera in Côte d’Azur, the Nicoise salad is a complete dish, rich in vitamins that goes well with a crusty baguette.
But beware, choose well your tomatoes, preferably grape tomatoes ripened on the vine and not pale substitutes like Batavian stored in coolrooms.
Traditionally, nothing but the eggs should be cooked if it’s going in an authentic salade Niçoise. And in addition to the absence of potatoes (which might be okay if you don’t mind eating them raw?) or interdit steamed green beans, another item that is absent is vinegar; a good olive oil is used as the dressing with a few herbs mixed in. We can allow vinegar if you’re making a Pan Bagnat, a sandwich which is basically a Niçoise salad tucked inside a not-too-firm bun: olive oil and vinegar are sprinkled on to moisten the bun then rubbed with fresh garlic.
For example, one can not put grilled or seared tuna on the salad and call it a salade Niçoise. Canned tuna or anchovies are acceptable, but not both. And never, never, include boiled potato or any other boiled vegetable in your salade niçoise.
Classic Salade Niçoise
Makes 2 salad bowls
Unpitted olives are fine if making a salad (composed salad), aim for ease of eating, you may want to pit them first if making a tossed salad such as this. If you use unpitted olives, especially tiny Niçoise olives, advise guests to watch out for pits.
Although Mr. Doctor warns away from using lots of any French dressing, you can use a vinaigrette instead. In place of the lettuce, you can use arugula or mesclun greens of a mixed, which is seen served in Nice in many restaurants.
- 2 large, ripe tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and halved
- 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced
- 2 spring onions, or 1 small red onion, thinly sliced and peeled
- 1/2 cup (90g) peeled fava beans
- 1/3 cup (55g) small black olives, Nicoise olives de preference, pitted or unpitted
- 1/2 head of lettuce, torn or shredded
- 3 hard-cooked eggs (see below)
- 6 tablespoons (90ml) extra-virgin olive oil or French vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3-4 anchovy fillets, cut into thin strips lengthwise, or 6 ounces (180g) tin of tuna
- Rub the clove of garlic all over the insides of a wooden salad bowl.
- Cut the tomatoes into wedges and put them in a colander. Sprinkle with salt, and let them drain for a few Minutes while you finish the salad.
- Add the cucumber, onions, fava beans, olives, and lettuce to the bowl.
- Peel the eggs and cut into wedges.
- Mix the olive oil with the herbs and a bit of salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes to the bowl and toss the most of the dressing with the salad, reserving a bit to drizzle over the eggs. (If using tuna, toss the salad with that as well.) Season with additional salt, if necessary.
- Place the eggs on top of the salad and drape the strips of anchovy over the eggs. Pour the remaining of the dressing over the eggs.
To make hard-cooked eggs: Begin with room temperature eggs. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, dip in the eggs gently. Let cook for 9 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and plunk them into a bowl of ice water, cracking the shells is a bit more effective and helps the peeling.