from one generation to the next
As the weather heats up my mind turns to light, lazy meals based on fresh veg. Meals that require little cooking, so the cook (me) doesn’t get hot and bad tempered in the kitchen. Salad Nicoise uses ingredients that are at their best in summer, and flavours that marry well. The quality of the ingredients you use really shine through so be sure your tomatoes are ripe, the lettuce crisp and the beans fresh.
Just a word about cooking beans. Beans should be served firm but not hard, vivid green in colour not grey, and beans should not squeak against your teeth when bitten into. Six minutes boiled or steamed seems to be the optimum time to achieve the perfect bean. Remember that the bean will continue to cook in their residual heat so it’s important to cool the beans quickly in cold water.
This salad makes a great party piece, though the amounts given are to serve 2.
4 medium sized waxy potatoes
1 small clove of garlic
3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
150g green beans
1 baby cos lettuce (romaine)
4 ripe juicy tomatoes
2 large eggs
220g can of tuna in olive oil
Small bunch (20g) fresh basil
12 kalamata olives
Drain the oil from the tuna can. Set aside 2 tablespoons of this oil to dress the potato salad. Set aside the remainder to dress the beans. Make up the volume with olive oil if there is not enough.
Make the dressing for the potato salad by whisking together the tuna oil, white wine vinegar, the finely minced garlic and a generous amount of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.* see note
Wash the potatoes, cut them into 2 cm dice, then steam until cooked. When the potatoes are cooked tip them into a bowl and dress immediately. Set aside to cool a little.
Trim the beans then steam for 6 minutes. Refresh in cold water, drain, then dress with a little oil.
Separate the leaves of the cos lettuce. Wash then dry them in a salad spinner.
Boil the eggs, timing 4 minutes from when they start to boil. Refresh in cold water then peel and halve.
Wash the tomatoes and cut into wedges.
Flake the tuna with a fork.
Pit the olives and cut in half.
Once the heat is out of the potatoes add the torn basil leaves and stir to combine.
Lay the lettuce leaves into a shallow bowl then spoon in the potatoes. Arrange the beans on top then the tomatoes. Top with tuna then garnish with the olives and top with a boiled egg. Season generously with sea salt and pepper.
Best served at room temperature though everything can be prepared ahead and stored in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 1 hour before serving
*if I have homemade pesto to hand I dress the potatoes with pesto and omit the garlic and basil.