An Irish twist on Niçoise salad. Yes, it has potatoes

This gorgeous rustic French dish is one of my favourite go-tos – and I love adding new little potatoes

Niçoise salad – why not add potatoes and green beans

Niçoise salad – why not add potatoes and green beans

 

It’s salad season and in this weather they are easier to assemble than to get the ovens fired up. The more time we can spend enjoying the great outdoors the better.

Niçoise salad is one of my favourite go-tos. This gorgeous rustic French dish has so many different permutations. No two salads are served the same. I usually add little steamed new potatoes to my Niçoise salad but as with so many of these traditional, much-loved recipes, there is a right way and a highly controversial wrong way to make them. I have learned this the hard way over the years.

Let’s not forget that time back in spring 2016 when I put peas in my carbonara, an attempt to introduce a slightly healthy vegetable to the bowl brimming with Parmesan, butter, egg yolk and crispy fried lardons. It was a carbonara no-no and I received much feedback stating the same. Of course I had researched (delicious work) the traditional way to make it, but love to show options too.

It’s important to know and acknowledge the roots of a recipe but there is no harm in changing things a little to suit your own personal preference.

So the wrong thing to do, apparently, with Niçoise salad is to add potatoes. I really do think it’s your salad and you will be eating it, so add as many potatoes as you want. Particularly those divine little round new potatoes that are freshly picked. They are amazing with this zippy dressing. Green beans too are an optional extra. I love cooking them on the barbecue. Coated in a little olive oil and salt, they crisp up and cook so well. You can also steam them or boil them for a few minutes instead.

Originally, this Provençal salad reflected what was best in the markets. Plump olives, sun-ripened tomatoes, crisp Cos lettuce and an ochre yolked egg. Tuna or anchovies can be used. I’ve added both, with the rich salty anchovies providing the seasoning in the dressing. Anchovies are indispensable in the kitchen for adding salty, meaty umami flavour.

If you have access to tarragon then add a little to this dressing, its unique flavour is so good with these bold punchy ingredients. This should be a rustic, full-flavoured platter of bright ingredients. I usually assemble individual bowls to make sure everything is divided evenly.

Part of the joy of cooking from scratch at home is that you can add your own stamp. So make this simple dish your way and enjoy.

Niçoise salad

Serves 4

Ingredients 
4 eggs, soft boiled and peeled 
500g line-caught tuna, in oil 
2 heads baby gem or cos lettuce, broken into bite-size pieces 
16 olives 
200g green beans  
200g tomatoes, quartered whole or cherry halved 
400g steamed or boiled new potatoes (optional)

For the dressing: 
1 clove garlic 
3 anchovies 
1 tsp Dijon mustard 
3 tbsp olive oil 
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
Juice of ½ lemon 
2 tbsp mixed herbs (chives, parsley, tarragon)

Method
1
First make the dressing. Blend the garlic, anchovies, mustard oil, vinegar, lemon juice and herbs till smooth. I use a NutriBullet, but a small food processor or a stick blender will do too. It creates a thick smooth dressing. Set aside. 

2 Boil the green beans in salted water for two minutes then drain right away or coat them in a little olive oil and barbecue for five minutes. 

3 Assemble the salad by laying the lettuce at the base of each bowl. Next add the green beans, tuna and a drizzle of dressing. Add the olives and halved eggs. Serve right away.

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