Most people start their diets in January. Apparently we start our diets when we finally can't find a pair of pants that fit that aren't jammie pants. Both of love to eat and it's not like we are overeaters but eating with little to no exercise definitely puts weigh on you. I can't give up my butter, cream or bacon but I can make some concessions when the hubby says can we eat a bit lighter.
So tonight's dinner is still French inspired but definitely lighter & healthier: salad niçoise. Originally created in the 19th century in Nice, France it was considered "simple food for poor people". It started as a combination of tomatoes, anchovies & olive oil and then gradually grew from there sometimes including artichokes, red peppers, & black olives but excluded tuna & lettuce. ingredients for this recipe were meant to be crisp , fresh & local and many people in Nice are very particular about what goes into a niçoise.
My version is based on French Michelin-starred chef, Hélène Darroze's recipe. She got a lot of slack by the "niçoise purists" for her version & was warned that it is "dangerous to innovate". I say ...Soyez créatif et amusez-vous! (Be creative and have fun!)
Salade Niçoise (serves 2-4)
- 1 can of tuna in water, drained
- 1 cup of black kalamata olives, pitted
- 2 plum tomatoes, cut in quarters & halved
- 4 hard boiled eggs, cut in half
- 1 handful of french green beans, steamed & chilled
- 8-10 petite yellow potatoes, boiled & chilled
- fresh salad mix ( I use locally grown green mixes)
- 2 tsp good dijon mustard preferably Maille
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp local honey
- salt & pepper
- fresh parsley
- zest of 1 lemon
Fill a pot with potatoes & water. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 15-20min or until fork tender. Drain & place in a bowl in the fridge to cool. Next, use an egg steamer to cook eggs to hard boiled stage. Once cooked, place in cool water to stop the cooking process. Peel eggs and place in bowl in the fridge to cool. Next add a bit of water to a pot and bring to a simmer. Then add a handful of green beans to the pot and cook for about 3-5 min. Drain and place in a bowl in the fridge to cool. While all items are cooling, you can mix the salad dressing. In a bowl add mustard, honey, vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper. Whisk until thick & blended. Set aside.
Time to assemble the salad. I like to use a large serving platter. First place the lettuce across the bottom. Then start to add the toppings in sections: tomatoes, olives, drained tuna, green beans. Cut the hard boiled eggs in half and add to the plate. For the potatoes, chop some fresh parsley and add it to the bowl with the potatoes. Add the lemon zest and drizzle with olive oil. Stir and then add to the platter. Season entire platter with salt & pepper. Serve dressing on the side.
Hope you enjoy this healthy, yummy & innovative dish. xo- Jenna