Nothing fishy about my niçoise
In a classic salade niçoise, you would normally find boiled potatoes and anchovies, although I have developed a taste since moving to Italia for anchovies, especially very good quality ones in oil from the cantabrico coast, I prefer this salad without them.
Did you know that in Italy we have 2 different names for anchovy depending on how they are prepared? Fresh anchovies are called ‘Alici’ (pronounced A-lee-chee) and if they are preserved in oil or salt they are called ‘Acciughe’ (pronounced A-choo-ghe). Now you know!
This is my version of the famous salad, I still add fish in the form of the very best tuna I can afford, these come in Italy at least in jars, usually around 200g, I have a few brands that I like but I have found most are very good quality. You can always use whatever tuna you like or can afford, this is just my preference. It is such a simple salad I think that every ingredient should be the best you can get/afford.
Try and get your soft boiled eggs just right, I know that boiling an egg varies on many different things, size, egg temperature, etc. For me, I boil water and place a room temperature egg into the water and start a timer for 6 mins, after the time is up I put it into cold or ice water and crack the shell and let it cool down fast to stop the cooking. This almost always gives me a lovely jammy yolk, not too runny, just perfect.
The runny yolk and the vinegary dressing with the tuna and salad all gone together to make a beautiful salad, perfect for a light lunch on a sunny day, also goes very well with a cold glass of Umbrian Grechetto and some crusty bread.
- Pestle and mortar to make the dressing
- 1 head lettuce washed and torn into small pieces
- 200 g Jar of tuna in oil best you can afford
- 1 handful small black olives, smashed and de-stoned Taggiasca Olives if possible
- ½ Cucumber, peeled and seeded and cut into chunks
- 10 small Plum tomatoes quartered
- 1 handful Green beans blanched
- 2 soft Boiled eggs, 6 min egg is perfect
- First make the dressing, into the mortar roughly slice the garlic add salt and pepper and grind to a paste with the pestle
- Add mustard and honey to the mortar and grind a little more to combine and make a smooth paste then add the vinegar and grind again
- Next, add 1 tbsp of oil at a time after each grind the dressing again to incorporate the oil, once incorporated add another and repeat, once all the oil is incorporated you should have a nice dressing, set aside
- Drain the jar of tuna, save the oil for now
- In a large bowl add the prepared lettuce, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, green beans (whole or halved) and toss to mix, add 1 tbsp of the oil from the tuna and the dressing, keep a little of the dressing back
- Toss the salad and make sure the dressing is well mixed with all the salad
- Get 2 large bowls and split the salad equally between the bowls
- Divide the tuna into roughly 2 lots and beak each lot over the salad in the bowls
- Lastly, place a soft boiled egg on each salad and season the egg lightly with a grind of salt and pepper and serve immediately