Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of salad. We lived out in farm country where there was definitely an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables in the summer, and we would take full advantage of those. And by full advantage, I mean we would buy tons from road-side stands and farmers (or sometimes even pick them ourselves) and eat some, then can or freeze the rest for the winter when we wouldn’t have as much access to them. Lettuce really doesn’t freeze or can well, so we didn’t eat it at all over the winter months. And in the summer, we would only occasionally eat a taco or Caesar salad.
As my youngest sister and I got older, we decided that eating salad would be a great way to get healthy, so we would make intimidating salads. I’m pretty sure they were just a plate piled high with lettuce, whatever vegetables we could find in the fridge and cut up, and a LOT of cheddar cheese. I think it was the cheese that made it intimidating. The reason we loved the salad was the sheer volume of non-lettuce ingredients we put in it. Salad just seemed so much more interesting that way.
The first time I made this Salade Nicoise, I couldn’t help but remember our intimidating salads. Now, this does not have a pile of cheese. But it does have a pile of beans, potatoes, tuna, eggs, tomatoes and green onions. And if you bring it to work, people are pretty impressed at your commitment to making a healthy lunch.
What I really love about this recipe is that you can serve it to a group of 4 as a main dish or you can prepare the cooked ingredients and store them in ready-to-go containers in the fridge for your lunches at work. If you’re going to go that route, mini-cans of flavoured tuna are really the way to go. Lemon-pepper tuna is AMAZING on this salad. And definitely use grape tomatoes. You can put them in with the lettuce and then decide at lunch whether or not you want to cut them up.
What you need for the salad:
4 large eggs
1/2 pound green beans
2 large red potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 head romaine lettuce, sliced
2 5-ounce cans of tuna, drained
2 green onions, chopped
1 tomato or a few handfuls of grape tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
What you need for the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves (or a sprinkle of dried)
1/2 cup pitted and chopped black olives
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
What to do:
Boil the eggs by the method you most prefer. I usually place them in a pot of cold water, bring it to a boil and let it boil for about 5 or 6 minutes. Then I remove it from heat and put the eggs under cold water to stop the cooking. Peel and slice the eggs into quarters and set aside.
While you are cooking the eggs, prepare the vinaigrette. Whisk the mustard, lemon juice and vinegar together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, then the thyme, olives, salt and pepper.
In the pot you just used, cook the beans, again how you prefer to steam them. I just put them in a pot with about an inch of water on the bottom. I bring it to a boil and let it go until the beans are tender (a couple of minutes). Drain the beans and set aside.
Using the same pot yet again, boil the potatoes, just until tender (about 6-8 minutes). Once again, drain and set aside.
Arrange the salad by putting the lettuce on a large platter (or use individual plates). Top with the eggs, beans, potatoes, tuna, green onions and tomatoes. You can set it up like a Cobb salad if you would like it to be visually stunning. Then pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with black pepper.