The Not So Nicoise Market Salad

I have a bounty of farm fresh vegetables in my refrigerator.  But as a former chef, I’m not a fan of plain salads for dinner.  I’ve never found them satisfying and I’m always left wanting more.  So I’ve tried, as best as I can, to come up with a satisfying salad that will keep me away from the stove for most of the evening.  This week, I’ve found inspiration from the French town of Nice for a Nicoise inspired Red Hook Community Farm’s market salad.

{More after the jump.}

What goes into a Nicoise salad is always open to at least little debate.  A traditional Nicoise salad contains various vegetables topped with tuna and often anchovy.  Often, modern interpretations contain tomato, olives, potatoes, and salad greens along with egg.  Some earlier versions called for artichoke, red pepper, and shallot.  Some cooks eschew any cooked vegetables in this salad, while others take a stand against lettuce.  For this variation, we’ll use what’s available at the market, a few inexpensive extras, cut down on the proteins, and have a little fun creating more robust flavors with the vegetables.  — Adam Gregory

The Red Hook Community Farm Nicoise Salad

Servings: 4

Cooking time: around 1 hour

Ingredients:

  •  ½ lb CSA beans, stems removed
  • 2 Russett potatoes
  • 1 head CSA Curly Endive
  • 16 cherry tomatoes or 8 roma tomatoes
  • 4 CSA eggs
  • 6 oz olives, pitted (and washed if you’re using canned/jarred olives)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1  cup parsley leaves, loosely packed
  • ½ cup olive oil + 1 tbs olive oil + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbs grainy dijon mustard
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbs vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Place a medium pot of water on the stove over high heat.  In the mean time, wash the potatoes and cut each potato lengthwise, then in half down the middle.  With each of the 8 potato sections, cut them again lengthwise, and again lengthwise.  Each potato will yield around 16 sections.

2. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half.  If you are using roma tomatoes, try slicing them in quarters.  Toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 tsp oilve oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Spread evenly over ½ of a large sheet pan.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

3. Once the water comes to a boil, salt the water and blanch the potatoes in boiling water for around 6 – 8minutes.  You’ll want them about half way cooked as you’ll be baking them in the oven to crisp them.  Drain the potatoes.

4. Toss the blanched potato slices in a bowl with 1 tbs olive oil and salt and pepper.  Mince the two garlic cloves and mix the garlic with the potatoes as well.  Spread the potatoes evenly on the other half of the sheet pan that already has the tomatoes on it.  Place the sheet pan in the oven to bake for around 30 – 40 minutes or until the potatoes are browned and the tomatoes wilted.  Do not burn the tomatoes – nothing will taste worse than burned tomatoes.

5. Before your kitchen heats up too much, go ahead and wash your salad greens and make your dressing.  Pick the leaves off the head of curly endive and wash them in a large bowl filled with water.  Allow them to sit while you make the dressing.

6. In a food processor, combing the cup of olive oil, ½ cup parsley leaves, mustard, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Blend until well combined.

7. Remove the salad greens from the water and let them dry.  Place the greens and dressing in separate containers and place in the refrigerator until your potatoes and tomatoes are ready.  Now, get out of that hot kitchen for a while, take a break, and have an ice cold drink!

8. When your potatoes and tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add salt, and blanch your green beans for around 2-4 minutes in the salted water.  When they are done, remove them with a slotted spoon or pair of tongs and place in a bowl of ice water.  This will quickly slow down the cooking and allow the beans to retain their vibrant color.  You’ll only want to let the beans sit in the water long enough to cool, 2-3 minutes.  If you let them remain in the water too long, the beans will lose much of their flavor.  When they have cooled, remove from the water and dress them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

9. Add 1 tbs vinegar to the same water that you’ve blanched your green beans in.  Using a thermometer, adjust the temperature until you’re hovering at 190.

10. Dress the salad greens with the dressing.  For each serving, place salad greens in a bowl and top with the green beans, potatoes, olives, and roasted tomatoes.

11. Crack an egg into a small bowl.  With a spoon, swirl the water in the pot to get a little vortex in the middle.  Do this so that when you poach the egg, the white will swirl around the yolk instead of just dissipating in the water.  Lower the small bowl to just above the water, and let the egg slide from the bowl into the swirling water.  Set your kitchen timer or phone timer and poach the eggs for 3 ½ minutes.  Remove from the water and season with pepper and a bit of salt.  Top one salad with the egg.

12. To save some time, you can try poaching all four eggs at once.  I’ve found the results aren’t as great and I prefer doing them one at a time.  However, depending on how long you want to spend in the kitchen, the choice is yours.

If you’ve never poached an egg before, check out this informative video for the basics.

How you chose to poach the eggs is entirely up to you.  I feel that cooking them for 3 ½ minutes gives perfect runny yolks.  But if you don’t prefer your yolks as runny, cook them for slightly longer, as the video above shows.  It’s really entirely up to you and how you enjoy your eggs.

Either way, you’ll have a great summer salad on hand for a hot a humid night.  A great thing to note is that, aside from reheating the potatoes and poaching the egg, almost every step can be done in advance.  The ingredients will keep well in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.  If you do the work in advance, all you’ll need to do is reheat the potatoes in the oven, poach and egg, and enjoy!

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