Spring Green Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salad with green beans, fresh peas, olives, tomatoes, boiled potatoes, boiled egg, capers and parsley. Mustard vinaigrette.

It’s not too often you find a meal as well balanced, or a salad so hearty and satisfying as a Niçoise Salad. It’s got leafy greens and beans, it’s got olives and tuna for some healthy fats, ascorbic acid (vitamin c) in the tomatoes, protein from the tuna and eggs, and a variety of good vitamins and minerals in the potatoes.

This is one hearty salad – we often eat salads as side-dishes in the U.S., but this one is easily a full meal by itself. Satisfying, with a variety of textures and flavors; some salty, some tangy, some savory, some fresh green – it is delicious and will fill you up.

You can vary the ingredients some – it often calls for anchovies, and sometimes just has a standard vinaigrette dressing, for instance. In this case, we used canned tuna, as our neighborhood fish market was out of tuna, but you could also get a small albacore tuna steak and pan-fry it until just done through. You can vary the dressing as well, adding more vinegar if you like it tart, less mustard if you want a lighter dressing, more sugar or even some honey if you want it a bit sweeter.

As always, play around with it and make it just how you like it.

Ingredients

  • Butter lettuce
  • Tuna
  • Eggs (1 per person)
  • Potatoes (2 small or 1 large per person)
  • Green beans
  • Fresh peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Olives (we used castelvetrano, traditional would be niçoise olives)
  • Capers
  • Parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 big pinch dry dill
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar

Directions

  • Wash and dry your lettuce, and arrange on serving plates or in bowls.
  • Trim your green beans.
  • Put a shallow pot of water on to boil, and fill a bowl with cold water and (preferably) ice cubes.
  • Once the water boils, blanch your green beans and peas (separately) for just about 1 minute, until they brighten in color, but don’t soften.
  • Scoop them out and place them in the bowl of cold water to chill and stop the cooking.
  • Pit the olives if you need to, and also cook the tuna if you need to.
  • Slice the tomatoes in half if using cherry tomatoes, or in chunks if using large tomatoes.
  • Arrange all the ingredients on top of the lettuce.
  • In a small jar with a lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar (3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar), mustard, shallot, garlic, dill, salt, pepper and sugar. Put on the lid and shake well until all ingredients combine.
  • Taste the dressing and adjust ratios or seasoning as needed.
  • Pour dressing over the salads, and serve!

Cocotte Eggs with Creamed Mushrooms

We’ve been watching Jacques Pépin’s show: Fast Food, My Way. It’s a brilliant show, and illustrates something that we’ve thought about and discussed a lot – that really good food doesn’t have to be elaborate and take forever to make.

Anyway, this morning we were trying to decide what to make for breakfast, and we happened to have a ton of eggs to use up, some leftover mushrooms, and a shallot, so we decided to do a slight modification of his recipe for cocotte eggs with creamed mushrooms. We made it just for two, since there are only two of us here, but you can just double what we did, and make it for four, with really very little difference in time spent.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped roughly
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup creme
  • Small bunch of chives, roughly chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Once pan is hot, add the shallots, and saute until they begin to soften.
  3. Add the mushrooms, and the tablespoon of butter, and cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid and reduced a bit.
  4. Add the cream, and cook over medium-high heat until the cream reduced a bit into a nice sauce.
  5. Spoon the mushroom cream sauce into the bottoms of small cocottes or ramekins, something which is heat-resistant.
  6. Sprinkle chives on top, and grate a little bit of parmesan cheese over the mushroom cream mixture.
  7. Crack one egg over each dish.
  8. Rinse well the pan you used to make the sauce, then add about an inch or so of water to the pan, and bring to a soft boil over medium to medium-high heat.
  9. Place the cocottes in the water with the lids on until the egg whites are mostly cooked, then remove the individual lids and place a lid over the whole pan, so the steam will finish off cooking the surface of the eggs, but not cook the yolk too much.
  10. Remove ramekins carefully from water, and serve as-is, with a few pieces of chive on top for garnish.

Cocotte Eggs with Creamed Mushrooms

Cocotte Eggs with Creamed Mushrooms

Cocotte Eggs with Creamed Mushrooms

Cocotte Eggs with Creamed Mushrooms

Cocotte Eggs With Creamed Mushrooms

Cocotte Eggs With Creamed Mushrooms

Cocotte Eggs With Creamed Mushrooms

Cocotte Eggs with Creamed Mushrooms

Cocotte Eggs With Creamed Mushrooms

Crème Fraîche

This one is super easy and delicious. Crème fraîche is a cultured cream, similar to sour cream, and making it yourself from really good quality cream is easy and turns out very well. Equipment you’ll need is a saucepan, a quart-sized canning jar, and a instant-read thermometer.

Ingredients

  • 1 pint heavy cream (fresh or pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1/8 tsp mesophilic bacteria starter or 1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature

Directions

  1. Put some water in the saucepan, and the cream in the canning jar.
  2. Put the saucepan on the stove over medium heat, and lower the jar partway into the saucepan, so that it’s nearly touching the bottom.
  3. Hold the thermometer in the cream.
  4. When the temperature of the cream reaches about 86 degrees, remove from heat and add the bacteria starter or buttermilk.
  5. Stir gently to mix in the starter or buttermilk, and the put the lid on the jar.
  6. Put the jar somewhere and in something that will keep it at least around room temperature.
  7. Let sit for around 9-18 hours, until the cream has notably thickened and smells like sour cream.
  8. Refrigerate for at least a day before using.

Crème Fraîche

Crème Fraîche

Crème Fraîche