"Salade Niçoise shares the same propensity for misinterpretation as Caesar salad - one rarely sees the original version outside Nice, and even there I have encountered some real hotchpotches. The soul of a great salade Niçoise is, of course, using the best flavoured tomatoes available. While the other vegetables chosen may vary with what is in season there are a few essentials such as green capsicum, cucumbers and black olives. Sliced raw globe artichoke hearts and very tiny raw podded broad beans may be included when available. As to using lettuce, this is not traditional so it is up to individual taste. This salad is best presented on a deep platter so leave adding the dressing and tossing until your beautiful salade Niçoise is on the table. I adore this dish as the colours and aroma transport me to the sunny shores of southern France."
- 3-4 eggs, at fridge temperature
- 8 tomatoes, cored, cut into 2cm-thick slices
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 2 green capsicum, cut into thin matchsticks
- 4 spring onions, white part only, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal
- 2 small Lebanese cucumbers (optional), very finely sliced
- 120 gm small black olives, rinsed and dried with paper towel
- Torn lettuce (such as cos or red oak-leaf), washed and spin-dried (optional)
- 250-300 gm tuna in oil (preferably Ortiz red label or Crespi), drained well
- 10 anchovy fillets (preferably Ortiz brand), drained well, cut lengthways into 2-3 pieces
- 12 basil leaves
- 120 ml best quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp tarragon vinegar or Banyuls, or to taste
- 1Prick the eggs with a pin, then cook in a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes. Refresh under cold running water until cold. Shell and cut into quarters.
- 2Place the tomato in a colander, then sprinkle with sea salt. Leave for 15-20 minutes, then gently pat dry with paper towel.
- 3Rub a platter with the garlic and season it lightly. Arrange the tomato, capsicum, spring onion, cucumber, olives, lettuce (if using), egg, flaked tuna and anchovies on the platter so that the various colours contrast with each other. Gently tear the basil and scatter over the salad.
- 4To make the vinaigrette, mix the ingredients, adding enough salt, pepper and vinegar to your taste, and distribute evenly over the salad. Toss gently so that the ingredients are anointed evenly.
Note Reproduced from Salades ($59.95, hbk) by Damien Pignolet, with photography by Anson Smart. Published by Lantern, an imprint of Penguin Books. Pignolet's recipes have been reproduced with minor Gourmet Traveller style changes. This recipe is from the September 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.