What to CookSalad

The Lowest Key Niçoise Salad (No Salad Leaf in Sight)

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At 5 p.m. on a Sunday, life can feel grim. There are several ways to deal with the problem: going to bed immediately, re-reading old emails from your exes, a brisk walk, or making food. Some people are type-A Sunday cookers, meal-prepping, freezing batches of soup for later, baking cookies. I’m a little less focused, a little more freeform; when I realize that cooking might be what gets me out of a bad mood, I tend to just turn on the stove or the oven and go. That’s how I ended up hard-boiling a carton of eggs one night with no specific plan for them.

Luckily, the end result has become one of my favorite salads ever, a protein-heavy bowl that feels both indulgent and healthy. I took a couple eggs from my batch of 12, cut them into chunks, and combined them with the ingredients I always have on hand: rich avocado, oil-packed tuna, bright dill, and salty olives. They’re items I use a lot, though rarely together. But since I love them each so dearly, why not all at once?

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No prescriptivism here: Embellish with what you have.
No prescriptivism here: Embellish with what you have. Photo by Bobbi Lin

This salad has something in common with salade Niçoise, though not in its strictest sense: In his 1972 cookbook La Cuisine du Comté de Nice, the city’s mayor Jacques Medécin lamented the bastardization of the dish, complaining that “all over the world, horrified, I have seen the remains of other people’s meals being served under the name salade Nicoise.”

So perhaps it is more accurate to compare it to the sandwich pan bagnat, also often found in Nice, which comprises tuna or anchovies, raw vegetables, tomatoes, olives, garlic, and olive oil (a part of my salad, too), but can include any number of other additions, including gherkins, goat cheese, and red wine vinegar. It’s all assembled on crusty bread or ciabatta, which would function well on the side of my recipe, if you’d like. No prescriptivism here: Whichever olives, dressings, or herbs strike your fancy are likely to fit in well.

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Low-Key Niçoise Salad

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Serves 2
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • 1 1 can tuna or 6.7-oz. jar tuna fillets
  • 1/2 an avocado, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, halved
  • Fresh dill, chopped, to taste (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
Go to Recipe

What go-to dish have you created out of nowhere? Let us know in the comments!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Not Sad Desk Lunch