I was in Nice (France) last week and got a chance to enjoy Mediterranean living from a French perspective. Nice was once part of Italy, so I guess you could say French/Italian culture. It struck me this time how many things in Lebanese cuisine are similar to the Niçoise one. For instance, Swiss chard, eggplant, fava beans, garlic, chickpeas, artichokes, zucchinis, olive oil and olives, dandelions, orange blossoms, are all part of the culinary landscape in Nice. I searched high and low and finally found authentic chickpea flour to make the famous socca. Every restaurant in the old part of town lists salade niçoise on the menu. Here it is, adapted from the directions of a native niçois chef, Denis Bensa, from his book Les Meilleures Recettes du Comté de Nice.
You might be surprised to learn that potatoes, green beans, corn or rice, are not included in an authentic niçoise salad! In its native form, the salad only included anchovies because the fish was plentiful in the shores nearby (and economical) and only affluent people could afford tuna. Basil is considered an essential ingredient, and I have seen places in Nice serve a basil dressing instead of the fresh basil which is traditional.
Niçoise saladJoumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern July 11, 2015 Salads, French, salad, niçoise, green beans, tuna,
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Passive Time: 20 minutes
1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin, more to taste
3 pieces tomatoes or 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup artichoke hearts 3 baby purple artichokes if you find them
1 piece green bell pepper or red or both (I used both)
1/2 bunch radishes sliced thin
1/2 bunch scallions or 3 shallots or cébettes (purple scallions), chopped
3 eggs hard-boiled, sliced
1 cup fava beans, green, boiled till tender, peeled substitute butter beans
1/4 cup black niçois olives or other olives
2 cloves garlic, mashed more or less, to taste
1 teaspoon salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper to taste
1 can tuna, 6 ounces or anchovies, drained
1 tbsp anchovy paste optional (my idea)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar optional (not from recipe)
1/2 bunch fresh basil, chopped at the last minute if available
1 cup green beans optional, not authentic (my own twist)
1. Prepare all the ingredients ahead of time. Hard-boil the eggs by placing them in a saucepan and covering them with water; as soon as the water boils, cover and set aside for 15 minutes. Peel and slice.
2. Drain the tuna or anchovies. Simmer the artichokes till tender and cut into quarter or drain a can of artichoke hearts. Simmer the fava beans till tender. Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Place all the ingredients side by side while you prepare the dressing.
3. Prepare the dressing: mash the garlic, whisk in the anchovy paste, vinegar, basil (if using), olive oil and pour over the salad ingredients. Serve immediately.
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