Niçoise salads remind me of a particular scene from my childhood. Maybe it’s a warm, balmy evening or maybe there’s rain beating down on the windows despite being June. Anyway, in the middle of the kitchen table is a green oval dish filled with salad leaves and green beans, topped with a thick tuna steak. The edges are dotted with hard-boiled egg halves, each yolk saffron the surface for an anchovy criss-cross.
- 4 Eggs
- 100 grams Mixed leaves/lettuce
- 75 grams olives
- 120 grams Canned tuna (about 1 can)
- 100 grams Green beans
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
The longest part of preparing niçoise is the eggs. Boil a kettle or fill and a pot with water and bring to a boil. Carefully lower all the eggs, keep the lid closed and set a timer for 8 minutes. You will thus obtain slightly jammy eggs which will give a nice velvety texture to the salad.
While the eggs are on, gather everything else and start chopping. Lettuce, tomatoes, olives, spring onions – make sure nothing is too big, but don’t need to be too specific.
Cut off the ends of the beans and add them to the eggs when there are 3 minutes left on the timer (or put it on for 5 minutes initially, then 3 more, whichever works). If you forget, no worries, insert them once you’ve taken the eggs out.
Once cooked, put the eggs in ice water to stop the cooking and make them cool enough to handle. Peel and cut in halves or quarters.
The Assembly. Do it as you prefer. I like to layer the lettuce and leaves on the bottom, then group the ingredients around the outside so everyone can grab a little, but feel free to throw it all together. The tuna goes last, the slightly chipped star of the show.
Add a generous helping of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to a pitcher, jam jar or bottle and whisk/shake to combine. You want about 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Add the salad or add it once served if you think there might be leftovers – there’s nothing worse than trying to revive a soggy salad the next day.