Salad Niçoise

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On a recent trip to the Provence region in the south of France, I was reminded of what makes this dish so beautiful and colourful. And, how the various vegetables and fish combines to make it a simple but yet distinctive dish to serve for lunch or dinner during the warmer weather. There are endless permutations of this famous recipe but I would always have tuna, hard-boiled eggs, anchovies and olives. When served with crusty bread and a nice glass of something chilled, I can almost smell the lavender.

SALAD NIÇOISE

(Serves 4-6)

200g bag of mixed crunchy and baby leaf salad
¼ cucumber, cut into half lengthwise and sliced
150g new potatoes (waxy ones such as charlotte), cooked and thickly sliced
100g green beans, cut into 2-inch lengths and steamed
3 vine tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into quarters
50g black olives
5 anchovies, drained and cut into half lengthwise
1 200g tin of tuna in spring water, drained
2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced thinly

Vinaigrette dressing:
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients until well combined.

In a large salad bowl, layer the salad ingredients as follows: arrange salad leaves at the bottom of the bowl. Scatter over cucumber followed by new potatoes, green beans and tomatoes. Arrange hard-boiled eggs in a circle and scatter olives in and around the eggs. Place cross-strips of anchovies around the eggs and tomatoes.

Flake the tuna in a small bowl and mix it with a tablespoon or two of the vinaigrette. Heap the tuna in the centre of the salad bowl and scatter over the spring onions. Season with a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Just before serving, drizzle over the vinaigrette dressing and serve immediately.