Monday, April 07, 2008

Salade Nicoisette

Back in January I wrote about this Tuna and Green Beans with Blood Orange Vinaigrette dish I created, and with which I was so happy. Well, I have been thinking about it a lot over the past few months, and green beans were on sale at the Apple Market last week and I snapped them up without really thinking about what I wanted to do with them. So I did what I always do, and blanched them so they would be ready for whatever I did decide to do with them.

And then I remembered the tuna and green beans. And the blood orange vinaigrette. And the fact that I had three blood oranges in my refrigerator that had already been there too long (and might, in fact, already be past their usefulness). So I thought I would recreate that earlier dish, having been so pleased with it.

But not being one to be able to leave things alone, I felt the need to improvise. During my regular shopping trip the next day I noticed that they had the most beautiful almost baby-sized zucchini on sale. And bunches of radishes that were big and red and gorgeous (it may not have been feeling like it around here, but spring is on the way!). So I snapped them up, along with a pint of grape tomatoes, and went on my merry way.

I had some Romaine lettuce left over from the Oven-Gold Boar's Head turkey I bought for sandwiches, and some eggs leftover from a batch I hard boiled for tuna salad the week before, and some asparagus that I had also bought at the Red Apple.

So, nothing could be simpler. First, I made the vinaigrette (recipe in the link above) so the flavors would have some time to blend. Than I sliced the zucchini and radishes and blanched them while I steamed the asparagus. I drained the tuna and sliced the egg.

I took four leaves of Romaine and put them on the plate facing out, with the bottom toward the center. I put a salad's worth of the vegetables in a bowl and dressed them with some of the vinaigrette and then served them over the lettuce leaves. Then I arranged some of the the tuna in a row over one side, and the sliced egg in a row on the other side, and sprinkled toasted sliced almonds over the whole thing.

And as good as the tuna and green beans was, this was So.Much.Better. In fact, it was awesome. The only thing that would have made it better (and it did, the next day after I stopped at the store on my way home) were some sliced kalamata olives. And when the egg and tuna were gone but I still had the lettuce, vegetables, black olives, and vinaigrette left, it was fabulous with feta cheese for protein.

I am calling this Salade Nicoisette, because it has its origins in Salade Nicoise, but isn't. This is one of those versatile recipes that isn't really a recipe at all. You can use whatever you have on hand and make it as big or as small as you want - side dish or main attraction.

I blanched the radishes with the zucchini, and I was afraid I wasn't giving the radishes enough time. As it turns out, they cooked faster than the zucchini and were less crisp than I would have liked. I wanted to take the edge off of them, not neutralize them altogether. Next time I will either leave them raw, or maybe saute them for just a minute or two. And I used the fancy presentation for the photo. After the first night I just shredded the lettuce and mixed everything together and threw it on the plate.

I don't eat tuna all that often, and when I thought about why, I realized it's because I don't really care for how much the quality of canned tuna has deteriorated over the years, and how watery it stays when I get it packed in spring water. I recently switched to something called Tonno Genova, a Yellowfin tuna that is packed in olive oil, and I like it much better. Although I just discovered that it's distributed by Chicken of the Sea, which automatically makes me somewhat wary of its claims. Oh well, I don't eat it that often.


archibald fontaine said...

your back writing. :)

dejamo said...

Yes, I'm back, and I hope to start posting more regularly again. This winter really got to me, and we're in for mostly rain (and more snow on the weekend!) for the next or so. But the appearance of spring vegetables in the store has already cheered me up, and the Farmer's Markets should be starting up pretty soon too, so I'm psyched.

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