You can find Nice in the south of France. It’s very close to Cannes, Monaco & Marseille and is located on the Cote d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera. Cote d’Azur translates to mean “blue coast”, and you can totally see why. Every imaginable shade of blue can be found there, even obscure shades that you only see on paint chips like ‘cerulean’ and ‘cobalt’. The main street – Promenade des Anglais – overlooks the sea, and right around the corner, huge ships wait in the harbor to take you to magical sounding places like Corsica and Sardinia. Alcohol consumption notwithstanding, when you’re lounging at one of the restaurants immediately across the Promenade, the rocky beach below isn’t visible, so you feel as though all you need to do is step off the promenade into the impossibly blue sea.
Simply being there makes you feel like a movie star on break from filming your latest movie – a Da Vinci Code / Angels & Demons type thriller where you’re a brilliant symbologist (graduated from Hogwarts, naturally) and Hugh Jackman, Jimmy Fallon & Michael Fassbender battle for your heart. Also you have an awesome X-Men style power and just as you’re getting used to your life, your Grandmother tells you that you’re the Princess of Genovia and one day you will rule the country. I know. Pretty awesome movie. Hollywood, have your people call my people.
I’ve always heard about Niçoise Salads, but for me it was one of those dishes that you give a “hey, I acknowledge that you exist” nod in the cookbook, but never quite get around to marking it to try. I did make a mental commitment to try it in Nice, France, the place where the salad was invented (get it! Nice-oise!). Due to our commitment to drink beer and eat gelato though, salad was simply forgotten.
Overall though, I didn’t have a great local food experience in Nice. One day, I ordered the fancy sounding Seafood Fruit de Mer at a restaurant. When the plate came, the people at the next table stopped eating and looked at my plate. I misrepresent. It was a platter. That could easily have served 3 or 4 people. If you’ve seen me at my hungriest, you’re probably wondering “um…Indi. You see platters of food as a challenge, one that you usually win. What could possibly be the downside?” Well, It was the smell that wafted from this plate. Should it smell like fish rotting in a puddle after three days of sun? Or what I imagine shrimp vomit to taste like?
Maybe salad would have been better. I mean, Niçoise salads are made up of tuna, lettuce, green beans, boiled eggs, black olives, and a mustard vinaigrette. Pretty straightforward, right? It speaks for itself. I know how each thing tastes and I doubt that putting them all together will make it taste magically different.
While comparing Niçoise Salad recipes online, I’ve noticed that there are so many ingredient variations. The first thing is that you should have specific Niçoise olives, but that was compromise #1. I’ve seen salads with anchovies, radishes, beets, raw tuna, without potatoes, and different types of lettuce. I tried to stick to the classic ingredients, but my one big change was that I substituted the green beans with asparagus because that’s what I have in my fridge, okay?
There are also notable variations on the mustard vinaigrette. The vinaigrette recipe I used was from Saveur Magazine. As I was prepping the ingredients, I realized that I wasn’t making note of the amount or specifically following measurements per recipe. I think that it comes down to what ingredients you want more of, and what you want less of (I’m looking at you, olives).
As such, I’m listing ingredients for my salad here, but have proper measurements from Saveur’s recipe below. I doubled their recipe because look at the picture of the food. Ain’t no 1/3 cup of vinaigrette gonna be enough.
Hard boiled Eggs
Tuna (in oil)
Boiled Potatoes (skin on)
Asparagus, lightly steamed
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Olive Oil
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
2 Shallots, minced
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
To make Vinaigrette:
In a bowl, whisk all ingredients until combined.
To make Salad:
Assemble salad ingredients in a plate. Pour dressing over salad or keep it on the side. I respect your choice.
– I tend to cook my tuna for a few minutes to get rid of that raw fishy smell, but feel free to use it straight from the can.
– I think that this would be a cool platter to put out at your next party or BBQ. It’s really not that complicated to prepare, and can be done beforehand. Just keep in the fridge until ready to serve because the eggs and tuna will spoil if left out for too long. I myself am bringing this to the virtual Fiesta Friday Party over at Fiestafriday.net. Stop by, say hi to Angie, Loretta and Caroline and see what everyone brought!
– Dijon mustard is great in a vinaigrette, but I used one that I picked up in France because mustard in french is ‘moutarde’ (which sounds like a child trying to pronounce the english word) so I couldn’t not buy it. #validreason
There you have it. Have a wonderful weekend!