Well, it’s a new season, Spring. With all of the greenery and flowering of plants and trees so comes a change in my diet. I no longer yearn for hot soup, chili or other such warm plates on a cold dreary winter night. Instead, I look for a lighter healthier fare to eat for lunch and dinner, and I am sure many of you do too.
I will share with you what is known as a Salade Nicoise. Nicoise means it originates from Nice, France, which is on the Mediterranean Sea in the Provence area of the French Cote D’Azur in Southeast France. This area also includes the French Riviera. History has lost who originally invented this innovative salad. However, it is known that it appeared on French menus in the latter part of the 19th century. More particularly, Nicoise means that it is in the cooking style of Nice one of France’s most stylish cities on the French Riviera.
The most traditional Salade Nicoise contains lettuce, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, olives, anchovies, small cooked potatoes and is dressed with olive oil. It is a light and refreshing salad. There are many variations of it. Anchovies are a recurring theme throughout Salade Nicoise recipes but can be omitted of course according to one’s taste. Some include artichoke and capers as well as canned tuna and al dente green beans, red onion and may also add cheese like Gruyere. No one uses iceberg lettuce; it is more of an American thing. Usually a Mediterranean blend of salad is used or other varieties of salad.
The salad depicted was made at my parents’ house on Mother’s Day in Athens. We chose to use boiled small potatoes, pitted black and green olives from Kroger’s olive bar, green beans blanched then cooked al dente in butter in a frying pan, anchovies, canned tuna, boiled eggs, fresh basil and my Papa’s homemade vinaigrette.
In summary, Salade Nicoise is a refreshing, healthy and protein-rich fare which will not slow you down to high heat and humidity. It is kind of the French equivalent of an American chef salad. I suggest you try it with your friends and family. As usual, bon appetite my friends and eat well.