Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In Honor of Julia - Salad Nicoise!

     Tomorrow, August 15th, will be Julia Child's 100th birthday.  I have always been a big fan for several reasons.  One is that she possessed a sort of humble optimism laced with humor.  A couple Mother's Days ago, the girls gave me a little portable DVD player and I ordered Julia's first PBS cooking shows.  Back then they were recorded live and her spontaneity and joy really comes through. I love the show where she is trying to flip potatoes cooking in a pan and they wind up all over the stove.  As she is scraping them up in front of the camera she says, "When you flip something, you must have the courage of your convictions, I did not... but when something like this happens, nothing is lost, you can just turn it into something else!" Then she proceeded to pour cream and dot butter over the top and placed it in the oven.  I bet that turned out to be delicious!  Another reason I admire her is that Mastering the Art of French Cooking is my "gold standard" - when my short cuts fail, I look to it to see how I really should have done something!  For instance, her tried and true Pate A Choux recipe (cream puff paste) uses the same method as churro dough!
     Julia's PBS show, The French Chef, made Salad Nicoise popular in the U.S.  It is healthy, delicious, and perfect for a summer supper.  It is actually made of three salads (French potato, bean, and lettuce) that could stand alone on their own, but when combined together on a platter it turns into a yummy feast!

1.  Gather the Ingredients

You will need enough of the following according to how many people you wish to serve:
Green beans
Boston lettuce
Potatoes (I used red skin)
Canned tuna
Diced shallots

Other ingredients that are very nice to include:
Black olives
Anchovy filets

Proportions and components of the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, put through a press 

2.  Prepare the ingredients

Hardboil the eggs:
Place the eggs in a sauce pan and cover them with cool water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to just below simmering for 15 minutes.  Take off stove and run cold water over the eggs to cool them down.

Cook the green beans:
Snap the ends of the green beans, rinse them in a colander, and drain them.  Place them in a pan with enough boiling water to cover them, then turn the heat down to a simmer.  Cook just until tender, then run cold water over them to cool them down.

Cook the potatoes:
Cut the potatoes up into small, bite sized pieces.  Place them in a pan with enough boiling water to cover them, then turn the heat down to a simmer.  Cook just until tender. I did not do this but,  Julia suggested that at this point you drain them and pour a bit of chicken broth and white wine over them while they are still warm.  She said it would help the salad dressing to adhere to them when you put it on later.  If you don't do the Julia step, then drain the potatoes and run cold water over them to cool them down.

Get the extas ready:
Drain and rinse the black olives.  Drain the capers and the anchovies.

3.  Dress the main ingredients

Apply dressing
Whisk the dressing ingredients together.  Put the lettuce, potatoes, and green beans in separate bowls. Add the diced shallots to the potatoes.  Add just enough dressing in each bowl to coat it well.

4.  Arrange

Make it look pretty
Put the dressed lettuce on the platter and then arrange the beans, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, black olives, capers, and anchovies.  Drain the can of tuna and put it in the middle.  Enjoy - this combination is really, really yummy!


  1. :) Lovely to see a 'proper' recipe - we're all so desperate to be original that the traditional, and sometimes greatest things get forgotten about. Looks delicious, and faithful to Julia!

    1. Thanks so much! Isn't it great that her recipe called for "canned" tuna? In the 60's, I imagine that was something almost every pantry had in it!