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Posts from the ‘Salads’ Category

Tuna Salad Nicoise

If ever I see Salad Niςoise on the menu, my choice might just as well have been made for me. Every other listing on the menu gets obscured behind shower-glass. I can’t quite make it out. Reading glasses don’t help. That’s how much I love Salad Niςoise!

The first time I tried this salad, years ago,  I prepared it myself. Even though as newlyweds we were counting pennies, I was wanting, so badly, a new cookbook – something really amazing to add to my “library” of two.  (Or was it only one?) I’m still kind of perplexed at my choice, because I had next to no experience in the kitchen, but I thought at the time my selection made sense. “Why not start at the top and learn from Julia Child? She has her own TV show!  And she speaks French! She probably knows just about everything.” It was blind luck I suppose that I stumbled upon this salad before trying my hand at (deflating) a souffle, or braising beef tongue for Pot-au-feu (gag reflex), or making oeufs en gélee (poached eggs in aspic, if you can imagine!)   I fear I never would have found Salad Niςoise if I hadn’t happened upon it before the others!  Over the years, it’s undergone a few changes – but nothing major. Some things just possess that kind of status. They’ve earned their place. It’s the sort of thing that you’re a bit awed at the very sight of, you dip your head with respect, allow for a moment of silent appreciation, give in to the smile that’s forcing its way up, then raise two forks and begin! (OK, just one.)  For me, that’s Salad Niςoise. It gets me every time.

Tuna Salad Niςoise

(serves 4 main course meals)

This salad originated in Nice, France. It’s fresh, clean, light, summery, deliciously lemony, a little salty here and there…and is one of those things that’s far greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a composed dish – arranged in any manner that suits the artist – that would be you. The key though is to treat each component in a way that brings out the delicious best in it. The ingredients that are cooked are done so separately, and most are then tossed in a little vinaigrette  before being arranged on the platter. The components of this salad can ALL be prepared ahead of time, put in their own containers, loaded in the cooler and taken on a picnic, then artfully assembled on site! Can’t you just hear Julia now?  “Tres chic picnic!”

I happen to love seared Ahi. Rare. For me, a little satisfies deeply. But, if you don’t have access to it, or aren’t enamored of it, you can use a good canned albacore tuna – when packed in extra virgin olive oil its taste is very good. For years, I bought tuna packed in water, but I’ve learned since that loss of flavor is the price you pay for that exchange. Because more of you will probably opt for the canned tuna, I’ll write the recipe for that. If seared ahi is your preference, I’m assuming you’ll know just what to do – sear in very hot pan one minute or so per side.


  • 1  clove garlic, minced (or to your taste)
  • 3 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon wine vinegar (not balsamic)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard or 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Fresh or dried herbs – especially fresh thyme leaves

Make a smooth paste of the minced garlic, combined with the salt. Whisk in lemon juice and wine vinegar. Add mustard. Slowly whisk in olive oil, or place it all in a lidded jar and shake until emulsified.

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1 bunch watercress (optional)
  • 8 plum tomatoes, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, (tossed with 2 T. olive oil & 1 T. balsamic vinegar)
  • 5 – 10 sprigs of thyme or lemon thyme
  • 1- 6 or 7 oz. can of albacore tuna in extra-virgin olive oil (preferably troll caught)
  • 3/4 pounds fingerling potatoes (or small white or Yukon Gold potatoes)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup (or more) Niςoise olives
  • 1/2 pound fresh green string beans
  • 5 anchovies packed in salt (or a 2-oz. tin of flat fillets in olive oil) – Optional ! 
  • lemon cut in wedges for serving

Serving suggestion: Serve with toasted crusty bread drizzled with olive oil.

I’m about to give you directions for slow-roasting the tomatoes with olive oil and thyme. They’re really delicious this way, and add a different dimension to this salad, but if you haven’t the time, or would just prefer them un-roasted, then skip to the next step.

Roasting tomatoes. Prepeat oven to 300°F. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with 2 T. olive oil and 1 T. balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper and place cut side down, with a sprig of fresh thyme tucked beneath. Bake for 45 minutes or 1 hour, or until tomatoes are “sun-dried” and lightly caramelized. Read more

Greek Salad with Farro

This refreshing salad, with its bright, fresh herbs, crisp cucumber and sweet red bell pepper, its chewy farro, and bits of salty feta,  tastes like summer! It can be the central part of a vegetarian meal, or a side dish for roasted or grilled chicken, or grilled salmon.

Farro is one of those ancient grains making a “come-back,”  showing up on modern grocery shelves. It has a nutty flavor and a pleasingly chewy texture, similar to barley and whole wheat berries (which you could substitute in this recipe if you can’t find farro.) Like many other ancient grains, it’s nutrient-rich.

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced (see NOTE)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored & seeded, cut in medium dice
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill or parsley (I prefer the dill)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup crumbled or diced feta cheese
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes

NOTE: I prefer the long English cucumbers – if you use these, it’s unnecessary to remove the seeds

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tbl. red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Place rinsed farro in a large saucepan and cover with 2 quarts of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 to 35 minutes. (Farro will have a similar texture to barley when cooked.) Drain it well and set aside to cool completely.

Read more

Moroccan Orange Salad with Red Onions & Black Olives

This salad from Morocco is colorful and refreshing, and perhaps unbelievably delicious. If you can be swayed by it’s somewhat unique beauty to try it (as I was), I believe you’ll return to it again and again. I quickly rinse the sliced onions to remove any of their biting sharpness. They mellow almost instantly and the flavors seem to all come together in perfect balance. This salad accompanied our skewered chicken, grilled asparagus and couscous for last night’s dinner. It’s also an excellent accompaniment to hot stews or highly spiced dishes, which is, I suppose, why Moroccans imagined it in the first place. (Recipes for the rest of dinner to follow.)

Orange Salad with Red Onions and Black Olives

(serves 4)

  • 3 fresh navel oranges
  • 1/2 – 1 red onion
  • 1 handful of black olives (12 or so)
  • 2-3 Tbl. olive oil
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
  • sea salt
  • 1 t. cumin seeds, roasted
  • 1/2 t. Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Optional: fennel bulb – see below for variation

Roast the cumin seeds on medium-low heat in a small pan. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.   Read more

Why not Kumquats?

One simple salad I simply love has little slivers of bright and tartly fragrant kumquats in it. Have you never tried a kumquat? You should!

Green Salad with Kumquats, Avocado and Pistacios


  • Mesclun, mixed spring greens, or baby spinach (or lettuce of your choice)
  • Avocado
  • Kumquats (see NOTE)
  • Pistacios
  • Dressing – Cilantro-Lime Salad Dressing (in my post Cilantro-Lime Salad, today’s date.)

(You’ll notice that for green salads I don’t list quantities. Only you know how much you or those at your table will eat at one meal.)

Remove your pistacios from the shell. Chop them coarsely, or leave them whole, as you choose. (Or toss some whole ones in, and save the chopped ones for scattering over top.)

Wash and dry your lettuce.

Wash your kumquats, and slice them crosswise, as thinly as possible, removing the seeds as you go. (Yes, you DO eat the peel! In fact it’s all about the peel. Kumquats have been called the inside-out fruit – all the sweetness in the peel, the sour in the flesh.) For a salad feeding two, I use about a handful of kumquats.

Slice or chunk your avocado.

Combine your lettuce, the avocado, and kumquats in a salad bowl. Dress lightly with Cilantro-Lime dressing. Scatter with pistacios and serve.

NOTE: If you’re undecided on whether to try kumquats, I understand your hesitation, but maybe this will help: they’re little ovoids, somewhat smaller than a pecan; they manage somehow to be both hinting of sweet and smacking of tart; they smell vaguely like a daphne blossom, which is, if you didn’t know, heavenly; and they’re highly cute. What more could you ask for in a tiny fruit?

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