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The Perfect Niçoise

As summer hits full swing, doesn’t it feel like every day is hotter than the last? Mornings melt into the afternoon, and a daily challenge is beating the heat with a cool, fresh and healthy lunch. It feels like just yesterday the snow was melting and I’d cozy up to a warm cup of soup and a little toasted bruschetta for my mid-day meal. Now, with July’s blazing sun, curating the perfect lunch is more challenging.

So, from our Maple & Lather team, we offer what’s been called the “perfect summer lunch”. It’s the Niçoise Salad of course – from Nice, which neighbors the lavender fields where our soaps and scents are made. So much goodness comes from the region of Provence, France and today we’re sharing another little slice of that idyllic life with you.

The Niçoise has many variations. And like any traditional recipe, there’s a lot of passion and opinion around the foundations of the Niçoise. The most contentious debate rages over whether it’s a raw-only salad, or whether some cooked ingredients are customary. At the heart of the matter is whether tuna and potatoes are add-ons, or core items.

We’ll abstain from giving our vote by going middle-of the road with our recipe, with a couple of tips along the way. But remember, feel free to modify as you please. The French may be particular about their traditions, but enjoying simple pleasures means putting your taste palette first.

Recipe (4 Servings)

INGREDIENTS & RECIPE

To start the salad, thinly line four bowls with your greens of choice. Then, in a large separate mixing bowl, combine:

  • 1 cucumber, sliced to your preference
  • 2 small, six-ounce cans tuna in olive oil, drained, or if you’re have the time, a seared and chunked piece of sushi grade tuna
  • 1 red onion, sliced finely
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cut in eighths or quarters
  • 3/4 cup of brined-black, pitted olives (kalamata may be your closest match)

Now, divide the contents above into the four serving bowls and top each salad with:

  • 1 boiled egg, peeled and quartered. For us, the consistency of the egg is key!  We prefer medium boiled eggs, achieved by placing eggs in ready boiling water for 7 minutes, and then immersing in an ice-cold bath to cool
  • Sliced anchovies, to taste
  • Finely chopped leaf parsley

AND NOW FOR SOME CONTROVERSY, THE DRESSING!

We’ve seen and tried several variants of Niçoise dressing but the most faithful to nice are the simplest, because the anchovies, oil and parsley add a nice savor already. Mix two tablespoons of olive oil with a teaspoon of chopped basil, or Herbs de Provence, whichever is easiest. Now, drizzle!

And finally, if you’re going to complete the experience, pair it with a rosé from Provence. We’ve written about them before and if you need a suggestion, just have a look.

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