Salade Nicoise makes a delicious picnic meal, with starchy potatoes, crunchy green beans, sweet tomatoes, and tuna, anchovies, and eggs melded together in a single satisfying dish. But I object to it being too mixed up before serving. I prepare two separate components: the potatoes and green beans with a mustardy dressing and hard boiled eggs layered on top, and tuna with tomatoes and a lemony, herby dressing with anchovies layered on top. Pack these with some lettuce greens, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of chilled white wine, and you have a delicious picnic meal that you can assemble on your plate. —Fairmount_market
Boil the fingerling potatoes in salted water until they are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Drain.
Trim the stems from the green beans and blanch them in salted water for about 4 minutes, until they are just tender. Drain and cool in an ice water bath.
While the potatoes and beans are cooking, prepare a mustard vinaigrette by whisking together 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, the mustard, and the olive oil, and salt and pepper.
As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle (but still quite warm), peel them, slice them into 1 inch chunks. In a storage container or bowl that is large enough to hold the potatoes, beans, and eggs and will be convenient to transport, toss the potatoes with the white vermouth. Once they have absorbed the vermouth, toss them in the mustard vinaigrette. Chop the tarragon and chives and stir these in, along with the green beans. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Peel the eggs and cut them into quarters. Layer these onto the potatoes and beans, cover and store until your picnic. A few hours sitting will allow the vegetables to absorb the vinaigrette.
In another transportable container, mix the remaining tablespoon of white wine vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk in the olive oil from the tuna cans, salt and pepper. Add the tuna, flake with a fork, and mix into the vinaigrette, keeping some larger chunks.
Wash and cut the tomatoes into slices, or half the cherry tomatoes. Wash and chop the basil and parsley leaves. Gently mix the herbs and tomatoes into the tuna. Taste and adjust seasonings. Layer the anchovy fillets on top, cover and store until your picnic. Again, this salad will improve with a few hours of sitting.
At your picnic, arrange on each plate a handful of lettuce, a generous helping of the potato and bean salad, and top this with a generous helping of the tomato and tuna salad. Enjoy with a crunchy loaf of fresh bread.
I'm a biology professor and mother of two, and in my (limited) free time I love to cook, which is much more forgiving than laboratory science. Last year I helped start a farmers market in my neighborhood, and to promote it, I created a food blog: fairmountmarket.blogspot.com. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with recipes for local, seasonal ingredients and finding fun ways to cook with my children.