Friday, June 13, 2014

My Almost Nicoise Salade

By Christine Burns Rudalevige
There are many rules to follow if you are going to compose a real Salade Nicoise.  And what those exactly are, depends on who you look to for advice.  Traditional Salade Nicoise lore requires that it be composed of only raw vegetables, giving the eater the chance to fully enjoy the quality of the produce growing in the countryside in the south of France, near Nice, hence the name. 
The dressing is supposed to stand on the quality of the region’s olive oil, thereby bypassing any vinegar in favor of minced garlic and fresh herbs, and of course, olives from that region as well. It may or may not contain anchovies or oil-cured tuna, but never both.  Julia Child (in her The Way to Cook) espouses Escoffier’s additions of steamed red potatoes, cooked French green beans (sometime substituted with fava beans) and hard boiled eggs.

As for my very own version, I don’t stand on ceremony, but rather, on what I can get my hands on locally – barring the olives and anchovies, which are always French and Spanish, respectively.  My lettuce is Boston Bibb, my fish is Atlantic sword, my potatoes are from Maine (fingerlings if I can get them), the eggs are cooked as English Dame of Cookery Delia Smith taught me, and I run with thin asparagus instead of beans unless it’s August and then I use beans.  

 Apart from those few caveats, I guess everything else in the salad is, in fact, traditional.  But again, that depends on who you ask.

Not Quite Salade Nicoise
Serves 4

Everything In Its Place
2, 1-inch thick swordfish steaks (about 8 ounces each)
Salt and pepper
½ cup chopped herbs (any mix of parsley, thyme, chervil, oregano and basil will do)
½ cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 anchovy fillets
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup lemon juice
1 large head of Boston Bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
½ pound fresh asparagus, trimmed, steamed and cooled
½ pound fingerling potatoes, steamed and cooled
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half
2 cups mixed cherry tomatoes
1 cup quartered radishes
½ cup black olives of your choice
Crusty bread for serving

Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the swordfish and set it on a plate.

Combined herbs, olive oil minced garlic and lemon zest. Take half of that mixture and rub it all over the fish.  Let the fish marinate for 15 minutes while you make the dressing and assemble the salad.
To make the dressing, use the back of a spoon to smash up the anchovies.  Mix in mustard until you get a smooth paste.  Add lemon juice and stir again.  Add in reserved olive oil and herb mixture and combine well.  Set aside.

Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high heat.

On a large platter arrange lettuce, asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes, olives and radishes to your liking. 

Grill swordfish steaks for 4 minutes. Turn them over and grill them for another 4 minutes.  Use a fork to gently pull apart the fish in the middle of the steak to make sure it is done to your liking. Let them rest for a couple of minutes.  Then cut them into large chunks and arrange them on the salad platter.

Drizzle dressing over the platter and serve.

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea. Next time swordfish is on sale, this might just be how I use it! Whole Foods had it the other day for 13.99/lb fresh and wild. Amazing price for us. I personally love salad nicoise. There is a restaurant in Los Gatos, specializing in seafood called Steamer's, that does a fantastic version with seared ahi tuna. Great post!


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