I’m at a cottage for the week with my mom and my aunt Nicole. My mom and I have been renting cottages for a week each of the past 6 or 7 summers. We’ve been to this one 4 times now.
Her friend Joan owns it and it’s perfect for us. The comforts of home (air conditioning, dishwasher) without being too fancy; on the water with plenty of acreage for Hudson to run around and no dog-unfriendly neighbours to worry about (though, in a testament to how charming he can be, a couple of cottages ago, Hudson had a ‘non-dog lover’ next door fixing his toys and playing fetch with him within the first couple of days, LOL. He was also having playdates with the people on the other side of us. Their beach was much better than ours and he wasn’t shy about saying so). Hudson joins us as our security guard and self-appointed stick gatherer. A pretty much daily sweep of the porch takes place to get rid of all the wood bits. Not annoying at all….He’s lucky he’s so cute…
Our cottage weeks are food extravaganzas fuelled by late afternoon cocktails and good wine. The trick is to have fabulous tasting lunches that are light and easy to make. The summer heat usually doesn’t allow for anything too elaborate or, heaven forbid, one on the stove on in the oven.
Nicoise salad has become a cottage staple. Super tasty, well-rounded, protein-rich, simple and fast enough to make with such a civilized air about it, LOL. I’ve made a lot of different varieties of Nicoise over the years. Today, I tried this one from Saveur. It was as good as any other one I’ve made. I’ve never been disappointed by any Nicoise salad recipe actually. As long as the staple ingredients are good quality, you just can’t go wrong. Feel free to play around with the ingredients–I do!
For the Dressing
- 1 clove garlic
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1⁄3 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 shallot, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Salad
- 1 lb. small new potatoes, boiled until tender
- 6 oz. yellow baby beets, boiled until tender, peeled
- 6 oz. red baby beets, boiled until tender, peeled
- 8 oz. haricot verts, blanched
- 12 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1⁄2 cup black Niçoise olives
- 8 small radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 8 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and drained
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
- 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
- 3 (4-oz.) cans high-quality oil-packed tuna, drained
- 1⁄2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, to garnish
- 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced scallions, to garnish
I didn’t have a number of the salad ingredients and it didn’t matter one lick. I skipped the radishes, potatoes, beets, scallions and anchovies (I used anchovy paste in the dressing however, as I find it gives it a distinctive and attractive taste). The basil is essential however, so don’t skip that one.
- Dressing: Mince garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle heavily with salt; using a knife or a mortar and pestle, scrape/mash the garlic and salt together to form a smooth paste. Transfer paste to a bowl and whisk in oil, juice, mustard, shallot, and salt and pepper; set aside.
- Salad: Arrange all ingredients in separate rows on a large serving platter; drizzle dressing over all ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with basil and scallions just before serving.