Sunday, February 10, 2013

Vegetarian Salade Nicoise

I just remembered when I first had this type of salad. I was visiting Lindsey, Moishe and Amelia, and we grabbed some to-go lunch right when I arrived on a gorgeous Seattle summer day. We walked to a patio by a bike path, a bridge, and the ocean and ate and caught up on just about everything as we ate. My nicoise salad was perfect: green, fresh, so many different things, tons of flavors, a tart, lemony dressing. I resolved then and there to order this same salad anytime I saw it again on a menu. I haven't really seen it often since then, so I started wondering: how could we make this vegetarian at home? 

We took inspiration for this recipe from our friend Jennifer Chandler's Simply Grilling book. The book is beautiful (J. shot the photos!), and it's full of grilling inspiration. We switched out the tuna with artichokes, added some green lentils, and kept the balance of the salad pretty classic. Serve it rustic on a big platter and let folks serve themselves, or make petite pretty salads with a smaller chop, your choice. 

Vegetarian Salade Nicoise

French Green Lentils (recipe follows)
1 large pot of salted water (as salty as the sea)

1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning
1/2 pound haricots verts (or green beans)
2 medium artichokes
1 lemon (halved)
6 medium red new potatoes (quartered)
4 large eggs (8 minutes)

1 head butter lettuce (cut away from the core)
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1 cup Nicoise olives
4 to 8 caper berries
Thyme and Tarragon Dressing (recipe follows)
Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Make lentils according to the directions and place in the fridge to chill. 

Bring the large pot of salted water to a boil, and add the Old Bay seasoning. The haricots verts, artichokes, potatoes, and eggs will all be cooked in this pot of water, which makes this seemingly complicated recipe much, much easier. Blanch the haricot vert in the water for 2 minutes, remove them from the boiling water, and place them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. 

Trim the artichokes by peeling the tough outer part of the stem with a vegetable peeler, trimming off the top 1/3 of the leafy part, and then cutting it in half lengthwise so a cross-section of the heart is exposed. Rub all cut parts of the artichoke with the lemon to stop it from oxidizing. 

Place the artichoke, lemon, and quartered new potatoes into the boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove artichokes and potatoes to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. The "choke" should be easy to remove by tugging on the hairy-looking part just above the heart now that the artichokes are cooked through.

Lower the eggs into the boiling water for exactly 8 minutes and then remove to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. (8 minutes will give you a custardy yolk, which I like.) Cook them for 10 minutes to achieve a solid center. Slice eggs in quarters or slices.

Arrange a few leaves of butter lettuce in the center of a plate. Arrange the components any way you like. This can be a rustic salad or a very composed plate. It's up to you. Drizzle the whole thing with Thyme and Tarragon Dressing and season with Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper. 

Makes 4 main-course salads or 8 appetizer portions. Goes great with our Bourguignon.

French Green Lentils

1 1/4 cups vegetable broth (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1/2 cup lentils
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon dijon or grainy mustard

Into a medium pot over high heat, place the broth, lentils, thyme, bay and mustard. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

Thyme and Tarragon Dressing

1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
4 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

1 tablespoon minced shallot (rinsed)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Into a medium bowl place the mustard, lemon, and honey. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to emulsify the dressing. Stir in the thyme, tarragon, shallot, salt, and pepper.


Fire Horse Studio said...

Voted! Good Luck

Loca4crafts said...

This salad looks amazing. I will definitely try this.

The Chubby Vegetarian said...

Thank you fire horse!