Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 8 Salad 8 - Julia Child's Salade Nicoise

I am not going to lie. This salad is a major pain in the ass the make. Perhaps it is best ordered at a bistro.

Here is the recipe I used from Julia herself. I omitted and substituted a bit. That's just my small town kitchen ways. I used red leaf lettuce and Calamata olives. I omitted the anchovies. I seared up some yellow-fin tuna that my Dad pulled out of the Pacific off the coast of San Diego last summer . I know I was supposed to mound the items in piles but I always feel the need to make my salads in circles. I also added garlic to the dressing, I couldn't help myself.

This is Julia's recipe:

1 head Boston lettuce, large, washed and dried

2 to 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1½ pounds fresh green beans, trimmed, blanched, refreshed in cold water, and dried

to 1 cup salad dressing, such as the Oil and Lemon Dressing (see accompanying recipe)

3 or 4 fine ripe red tomatoes, peeled, if you wish, and cored, quartered and seasoned before serving

8-10 ounces oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked

1 quart French Potato Salad (see accompanying recipe)

8 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise

1 can flat anchovy fillets packed in oil, opened and drained just before serving

½ cup black Nicoise-type olives

3 or 4 tablespoons capers

¼ cup fresh parsley, minced

Prepare the salad base: Shortly before serving, line a handsome, large and wide salad bowl or a roomy platter with lettuce leaves, drizzle a little olive oil on them, and dust with a sprinkling of salt.

Dress beans, tomatoes, tuna: Toss the beans in a mixing bowl with a little of the dressing, and correct seasoning. Drizzle a spoonful or two of the dressing over the tomatoes. Season the tuna lightly with a spoonful or two of dressing.

Assemble the salad: Place the potato salad in the center of the bowl or platter; mound beans at strategic intervals, interspersing them with tomatoes and mounds of tuna.

Ring the salad with the eggs and curl an anchovy fillet on top of each.

Spoon a little more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers and parsley.

Presentation: Serve as soon as possible.

Source: Adapted recipe from "The Way We Cook" by Julia Child.

Julia Child's French Potato Salad Makes about 1 quart

1½ pounds "boiling" potatoes, all the same size and shape if possible

1-1½ teaspoons salt per quart of water

2 tablespoons shallots or scallions, finely minced

Salt, freshly ground white pepper

¼ cup chicken stock (or potato-cooking water)

1½ tablespoons wine vinegar

2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

2-3 tablespoons light olive oil, optional

Cook's notes: It is best to cook potatoes within ½ hour of using to prevent the possibility of their turning gray.

Peel, slice the potatoes: Fill a three-quart saucepan half-full with cold water. Wash the potatoes. One at a time, peel a potato, and if it's round and fat rather than long and thin, cut it in half lengthwise. Cut the potato into slices ¼-inch thick, and drop the slices into the pan of water, to prevent discoloration while you prepare the rest.

Cook the potatoes: Drain out the water, then add clean cold water to cover, and the salt. Bring to the simmer, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender -- keep testing by eating a slice to be sure. Crunchily undercooked potatoes are dreadful, and overcooked potato slices will disintegrate.

Drain, season the potatoes: Drain out the cooking water (you may wish to use it for soup).

At once cover the pan and set aside for 3 to 4 minutes (but no longer than 5), to allow the slices to firm up. Then uncover the potatoes and plan to season them while still warm.

Turn the warm potatoes into a roomy bowl and toss gently with the shallots or scallions, stock or cooking water, vinegar and parsley.

Let steep 10 minutes or so, tossing gently several times. Then correct seasoning, toss with the optional oil, and the potatoes are ready for serving.

Presentation: The potatoes will keep a day or two covered and under refrigeration. If they are made with oil, let sit for ½ hour at room temperature before serving.

Source: Adapted recipe from "The Way We Cook" by Julia Child.

Julia Child's Oil and Lemon Dressing Makes about ½ cup dressing

2 strips of fresh lemon peel, 1-by-2½ inches each

¼ teaspoon salt, plus more, if needed

½ tablespoon Dijon-style prepared mustard

1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup fine fresh oil

Freshly ground pepper

Prepare the lemon: Mince the lemon peel very finely with the salt, scrape it into the mortar or bowl, and mash into a fine paste with the pestle or spoon.

Make the dressing: Beat in the mustard and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice; when thoroughly blended, start beating in the oil by droplets to make a homogeneous sauce -- easier when done with a small electric mixer.

Presentation: Beat in droplets of more lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Use soon.

Source: Adapted recipe from "The Way We Cook" by Julia Child.

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