Twice this summer, I’ve served salade niçoise as an all-in-one main course, but both times I made changes to this classic salad. On each occasion my spouse and I were entertaining friends who were allergic to or did not like tuna, so I substituted sliced roast chicken (conveniently purchased from the supermarket). Along with the usual haricots verts, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, and hard boiled eggs, I included julienned red and yellow bell peppers and chopped sweet Vidalia onion. For serving, I centered mounds of mixed greens on dinner plates and surrounded them with this colorful array of ingredients. Everything was drizzled with a delicious thyme and lemon vinaigrette dressing.
I made the dressing and blanched the haricots verts and potatoes a day ahead. I also hard-boiled and quartered the eggs, julienned the peppers, chopped the onions, sliced the chicken, and measured out the tomatoes and olives. No last-minute work for me! I simply marinated the ingredients several hours before arranging and serving them.
My only accompaniment to the salad was a crusty loaf of country bread served warm. For dessert I offered scoops of maple walnut ice cream and homemade chocolate chip cookies. The result was a cooling warm weather meal for these days with record-breaking temperatures!
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Salade Nicoise with Variations
Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed when tossing salad greens
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped thyme (scraped from thyme sprigs)
12 oz baby Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, scrubbed but not peeled
Freshly ground black pepper
8 to 10 oz haricots verts, trimmed
2 cups cherry tomatoes, red, orange, and yellow if available
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered (See cooking tip)
1/2 cup black olives such as Niçoise or Kalamatas, pitted or
1 medium red and 1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, cut into 1/4 -inch wide julienned strips
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped coarsely to make about 1 cup
One medium roast chicken, preferably herb flavored (not barbecued or Asian scented), with breast meat sliced thinly and remainder of chicken saved for another use
6 to 7 cups mixed greens such as crispy red or green leaf, Belgian endive, butter or bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Equipment needed: several shallow nonreactive (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel) bowls for marinating the vegetables
1.For the Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette, place garlic, shallots, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a medium nonreactive bowl. Whisk well to combine. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the chopped thyme. (Dressing can be prepared a day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and whisk well before using.)
2.For the salad ingredients, bring a large saucepan or pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes plus 2 teaspoons salt. Cook until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 12 to 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a colander, but leave pot of water boiling. Place potatoes under cold running water and when cool, pat dry and halve them Then put them in a shallow bowl, season with salt and pepper, and toss with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette.
3.Add haricots verts to the pot of boiling water, and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes depending on their size. Drain in a colander and place under cold running water until cooled. Pat dry and transfer to another shallow bowl. Salt and pepper, then toss with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette.
4.Quarter eggs and add to another bowl. Salt and pepper them, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette. Place cherry tomatoes in another bowl; salt and pepper them and toss with 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette. Place red and yellow pepper strips in another bowl and salt and pepper and toss with 1 tablespoon on vinaigrette. Marinate the chopped onion in 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette in another bowl, and in another marinate the sliced chicken with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette. (Potatoes, haricots verts, and eggs can be cooked a day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Bell peppers can be julienned and the Vidalia onion chopped a day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Sliced chicken breast can be marinated a day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Bring the vegetables and chicken to room temperature and marinate them in the suggested amounts of dressing at least one hour or up to 3 hours before serving.)
5.To serve, toss the salad greens in a mixing bowl with 3 to 4 tablespoons or just enough vinaigrette to coat lightly. Season with extra lemon juice and with additional salt and pepper if needed.
6.Arrange salad greens in the centers of four dinner plates and surround them with sliced roast chicken, mounds of potatoes, haricots verts, eggs, tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, onion, olives, and sliced chicken breast. Spoon any remaining vinaigrette over the chicken and vegetables. Serves 4 as a main course.
Cooking tip: Everyone has their own favorite way to hard boil eggs. One method I like is the following.
1.Place 4 to 5 eggs in a small to medium saucepan and cover with 1 inch of water. Set over high heat and bring to a good boil. Turn off heat but leave on the burner. Cover and let sit for 10 to 12 minutes.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2022
- Using a slotted spoon remove eggs and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Let rest in water until eggs are cold. Then peel.