Salade Niçoise with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette

Salade Niçoise | Pinky's Pantry
I’m sick as a dog. I caught that terrible flu that’s been going around. I had a fever of 103° and felt pretty darn miserable. Finally got rid of the flu, but my doctor says I now have bronchitis, not to mention I’m wheezing like an old asthmatic. Sigh….. Anyway, since I’ve been laid up in bed, I thought this would be a good time to catch up on the blog and post some of my recipes that have been sitting in draft form waiting for a little tweaking or something before being published, so don’t be surprised to see several posts come out all at once.

Salade Niçoise (pronounced ni swaz) is one of my all-time favorite salads. I believe it originated in France and my understanding is the original is made with anchovies, but never having been to Nice, I can’t say for sure. Every time I’ve had it, it’s been made with tuna and my family likes it that way so I just keep it up — though personally, I wouldn’t mind anchovies. Hey! I happen to like the little guys! Anyway, classic niçoise salad typically has boiled potatoes, green beans, and niçoise olives, but there again from my readings it seems that boiled veggies are frowned upon in some areas of France. Whatever. I happen to think the boiled potatoes and green beans are the best part of this salad! Anyway, give it a try. I guarantee you’ll love it!

SALADE NIÇOISE

(Makes 4 servings)

  • 12 ozs. boston, bibb, or butter lettuce
  • 16 baby yellow potatoes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 10 ozs. haricots verts or slender green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cans (5½ oz. each) tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup niçoise or Kalamata olives, cut in half
  1. Fill a bowl with ice and water and set it aside. You may have to replenish the ice and/or water as needed.
  2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover the potatoes and add a teaspoon of salt.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to the ice water bath to stop cooking.
  5. When potatoes are cool, remove from ice water, cut in half, and set aside.
  6. Place eggs in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover eggs by one inch.
  7. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  8. Let cook for 6-7 minutes until eggs are hard boiled.
  9. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
  10. When eggs are cool, remove from ice water, peel, and set aside.
  11. Add fresh water to the saucepan and bring it to a boil again.
  12. Add the green beans and blanch till they’re bright green, about 1 minute.
  13. Remove green beans with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
  14. Once green beans are cool, remove from ice water, and set aside.
  15. Divide the lettuce equally into 4 salad bowls.
  16. Top each with 4 potatoes cut in half, 1/4 of the green beans, 5 tomatoes cut in half, 1 egg cut into 4 wedges, 1/4 of the olives, and half a can of tuna.
  17. Drizzle lemon-thyme dressing over each salad.

LEMON-THYME VINAIGRETTE

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper with a wire whisk until well combined.
  2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified.
  3. Dressing will keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

NOTE:  We like our dressing with a touch of sweetness, but if you want the dressing to be less sweet, feel free to cut the sugar in half or omit it altogether. 

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Salad of Spring Greens with Warm Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates

Spring Greens with Warm Stuffed Dates | Pinky's Pantry
Old Goat and I decided to go to lunch at one of our little local restaurants in town. It was a lovely day for a date. The weather was perfect for strolling past the lake and sitting down outside to enjoy a leisurely lunch. I ordered the salad special-of-the-day and boy did I love it! So much so that I just had to try and recreate it at home a couple of days later for the fam-bam to try. They loved it, too.

The salad wasn’t anything really fancy. In fact, it was incredibly simple with nothing but spring greens and pomegranate arils lightly dressed in a sherry vinaigrette. But it had these warm dates that were stuffed with melty, creamy blue cheese. You cut a little piece of stuffed date and ate it with a bite of salad and suddenly you were transported to culinary heaven! The warm dates contrasting with the cold salad, the burst of sweet, sour, and salty flavors, it was unexpected and delicious!
Pomegranate Arils | Pinky's Pantry
There are several different ways to get the juicy, red arils out of a pomegranate, ranging from picking them out with your fingers to whacking them out with the back of a wooden spoon. There’s a good post on how to cut and seed a pomegranate here. But I’m lucky. My local grocery store sells little plastic containers of ready-to-eat pomegranate arils which sure makes life easy and stain-free!
Spring Greens with Warm Stuffed Dates | Pinky's Pantry

SALAD OF SPRING GREENS WITH WARM BLUE CHEESE STUFFED DATES
(Makes 4 Servings)

  • 6 cups spring greens
  • arils from 1 or 2 pomegranates
  • 16-20 pitted dates
  • 4 ozs. blue cheese
  • 4 ozs. cream cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cut a slit on the side of each date from end to end.
  3. Fill the cavity of each date with blue cheese. If like mine, your kids don’t like the flavor of blue cheese, you can make it less pungent by blending it with cream cheese. I find that a 50/50 blend of blue cheese and cream cheese goes over well with the picky eaters in your life.
  4. Place the stuffed dates on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until cheese just begins to brown.
  5. While dates are baking, make the dressing.

SHERRY VINAIGRETTE
(Makes about 1 cup dressing)

  • ⅓ cup sherry wine vinegar
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. sugar or splenda
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ small shallot, finely minced (optional)
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use. Whisk again before using.

NOTE:  Vinaigrette can be made ahead of time. Place in an airtight container, cover, and keep chilled in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

TO ASSEMBLE SALAD

  1. Toss spring greens with as much salad dressing as you want. Do not over dress!
  2. Place about 1½ cups of salad onto each of 4 salad plates.
  3. Sprinkle about 2 or 3 tablespoons of pomegranate arils over salad.
  4. Arrange 4 or 5 warm stuffed dates on top.
  5. Serve immediately.