dazzling and interesting on a shoestring
In the continued Olympic Spirit of international sharing and cooperation, I bring you two yummy, inexpensive salads perfect for hot summer days and that utilize seasonal produce.
Salad Nicoise w/Tuna
This version of a French classic is pulled from my local newspaper’s weekend Food and Wine section, which is a great way to plump up your recipe collection. (If you don’t want to order the daily paper, you can subscribe to only the Sunday paper, or request somebody’s discarded Food section; most people don’t read the majority of their enormous Sunday papers anyhow.) It’s easy, inexpensive and quick if you’ve hard-boiled the eggs ahead of time, and takes very little cooking, so it won’t heat up the kitchen on a hot summer day.
(I love this dressing, so I use the larger amounts…increase at your discretion)
3-4 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (an essential staple in my pantry)
1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
a shake of black pepper
3 large fistfuls of green beans, (the recipe goes by pounds, but I never weigh anything at the store, unless my child and I are playing with the scale in the produce section) ends trimmed off and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 radishes (I’m not as generous with these, but if you love ‘em, then by all means, pile them on) thinly sliced
1/2- 3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and torn in half
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half so they don’t roll all over the plate, eluding your fork
2-3 cans albacore tuna in water (though if you want to be healthier and more environmentally conscious then use skipjack or another tuna further down the food chain)
3 hard-boiled eggs
Loaf of crusty bread— sour French being the best, though baguettes tend to be too small for the purpose of this salad (and you can use the leftovers to make croutons)
Red leaf lettuce torn into bite-size pieces
For the dressing, throw together the vinegar and Dijon and a bit of salt. Mix thoroughly and then whisk the olive oil into the vinegar in a slow, steady stream while you’re whisking, so that sucker emulsifies. Add a pinch of pepper.
Steam your green beans for a few minutes until they’re just the other side of raw, also known as what fancy chef-people like to call ‘tender crisp.’ Then throw the beans in some cool water, so they’re salad-ready.
Toss together your cherry tomatoes, olives, beans, and radishes with about ½ the dressing. Flake in the tuna, but don’t pulverize it.
Cut two slices of bread per person and toast it—it soaks up the dressing better this way. Arrange bread on a plate and top it with the lettuce and then the tuna mixture. Chop the eggs into a few pieces and add a little bit more dressing. I put the extra dressing on the table, too, because oil, vinegar and Dijon are a divine mélange. And voila, you are done.
If you prefer a salad with more Mediterranean flair and less je ne sais quoi, this is a great side salad for burgers, falafel, or pizza. In my kitchen, we’ve utilized the generous harvest of my friend’s cucumbers and tomatoes.
3-4 cucumbers— mostly peeled, depending on your preference for cuke skin, seeded (or not, depending on the time you’ve got) and diced
2-3 tomatoes— diced
¼ cup diced red onion
1 tsp. fresh oregano from your herb garden or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Toss all your veggies together, mix in the vinegar and toss around again. Sprinkle in your oregano and give it one more stir with the spoon. This salad is best cold (who wants to eat a warm cucumber… after all, the phrase is ‘cool as…’) so let its flavors meld in the fridge for an hour or so. And, it’s even better the next day.
Enjoy your last days of summer and all your back-to-schooling if you’re living in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re down under, best wishes for a happy spring!
Ciao and Chow!