Kitchen Witch - Play Nice with your salad

It’s too hot to wear pants — throw on a sarong instead and a pair of espadrilles to match. And since you’re probably not gazing out into the azure waters of the Mediterranean (me neither, I’m afraid), let’s pretend like we’re cooking on the veranda without a care in the world.

And let’s do like all the vacationing Côte d’Azur beauties and cook something “à la Niçoise” — you know, darling, to make us feel as if we’ve just stepped off the yacht.

A “salade niçoise” (nee-SWAHZ) would be parfait, n’est-ce pas?

Think olives, tomatoes, anchovies and garlic, just a few of the seasonal goodies coming out of Provence, the famed culinary region of southern France. Tuna headlines this dish, with its ties to the sea, but one of the things I love about this salad is that it comes without rules or regs. So long as you’ve got a few “niçoise” elements to give it the simple elegance that only the French know how to pull off, you’re in business.

A recent foray had me pounding a few anchovies and garlic in a mortar and pestle, which I later mixed with olive oil and lemon for a zesty vinaigrette. I had new potatoes on hand, which I boiled, plus some green beans (which I steamed), and then I started putting things on a plate.

A few notes on the canned tuna: I mix it with Dijon-style mustard rather than mayo, a personal preference that I think works here. I also try to get my hands on brands with ecological awareness. Look for albacore tuna line- or troll-caught in the Pacific Northwest — if you don’t mind paying a bit more.

Salade Niçoise for Two

2 8-Ounce cans albacore tuna, packed in water

About 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard, or enough to moisten the tuna

Three jarred anchovies

1 large garlic clove

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Olive oil to taste

Lettuce, washed

6 new potatoes, halved and boiled in salted water, drained

Handful green beans, trimmed ends, steamed in salted water


Optional add-ons: pitted olives, hard-boiled eggs, julienned red bell pepper

• Mix tuna with mustard and add salt and pepper to taste. Mash anchovies and garlic with mortar and pestle or in food processor. Add lemon and olive oil to taste to make sauce. Taste for salt.

• Line a serving dish with lettuce and assemble remaining ingredients on top. Pour vinaigrette over everything.

Culinary questions? Reach CL’s Kitchen Witch at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.