Saturday, March 9, 2013

Salade Nicoise

When I think about eating outside in the sunshine, I always think of salade Nicoise.  On a warm, sunny day just thinking about the smell of the Mediterranean Sea mixed with a whiff of anchovies and olives, and I am transported to the south of France.  Is there any better place on earth to have lunch under the sun?  Imagine the colors – azur seas, golden sun and egg yolks, dark olives, bright greens, white fava beans, red tomatoes.  Sitting under a blue awning on a brick, southern place near the beach, the sounds of French and Italian, the smell of pastis for an aperitif.  A summer lunch could hardly be better.

For her birthday, my wife wanted a trip to France.  Short of winning the lottery, that wasn’t quite going to happen, so I had to bring some of France to her.  I figured nothing could be more classically French than salade Nicoise and steak et frites.  A quick online search to find the classic salade Nicoise brought me quickly to David Lebovitz’ webpage.  A few posts back I wrote about books about food that I love.  It’s a bit ironic that it was Lebovitz’ site that popped up on this search because his book, The Sweet Life in Paris is one of my more recent foodie reads.  If you’re into either bread or Paris, I strongly recommend it. 

His webpage featured a great essay and recipe for salade Nicoise that I opted to follow quite closely.  I opted to do this with anchovies, as opposed to tuna.  Do not let that scare you away.  I sneak anchovies into many recipes and nobody ever believes me…if I tell them.  They’re liked by more people than can believe it.  I also had to cheat a bit and bought my fava beans prepped and marinated at the olive bar in Whole Foods.  And they were amazing.  A word about the eggs…I boiled mine for 9 minutes then doused them in cold water.  This left them somewhat soft and not too easy to hold and peel; be careful.  But the result?  Beautifully bright yolks, just beyond being liquid, still moist.

Some musette in the background, a Cotes de Rhone red, and the sizzle of steak in an iron skillet…and France came to us.            

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