I've been making, serving (and loving) Salade Niçoise since long before Provence became a popular vacation spot with Americans. It took MY first trip to Nice to realize just how many versions of it there really are! This variation is a favorite luncheon main course of my vegetarian friends. You can leave the anchovies out of the dressing if you must, but then be sure to add 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt. It has lately become my favorite picnic potato salad - especially wonderful because there's no mayonnaise to spoil in the heat. —ChefJune
6 generous servings
oil-packed anchovy fillets, well drained and very finely chopped
Dijon mustard (I love Fallot)
clove garlic, very finely chopped
white wine vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil
medium-sized red potatoes (2 pounds) scrubbed, with skins intact
dry French vermouth (I like Dolin dry)
red onion, thinly sliced
chopped fresh chervil or flat-leaf parsley
tiny ripe Niçoise olives (or choose oil-cured ripe olives from Nyons or Morocco)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
haricots verts (tiny French green beans)
fresh, young spinach, washed several times to remove any sand, and well dried
In a bowl, whisk together the anchovies, mustard, garlic and vinegar. Add the oil, one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly. Set the dressing aside so the flavors can mellow.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until they are tender when pierced with a fork.
Trim the green beans and blanch in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat immediately and refresh in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Toss with about 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette
While the potatoes are still hot, but cool enough to handle, slice them thickly and layer them in a wide, shallow bowl. Sprinkle each layer with some of the vermouth, red onion and parsley. Pour the vinaigrette and olives on top and, with your hands, gently toss the potatoes with the olives and dressing. Wipe the sides of the dish; add salt and pepper to taste.
Cover with plastic wrap and let the potatoes sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.
5. You can make all the components ahead of time, but don’t assemble the salad until you are ready to serve. For a seated luncheon, arrange potato mixture atop the spinach and garnish with more olives and very thinly sliced red onions. For casual picnic service, arrange as before, then toss everything together.
Teacher’s Tip: Any waxy potato, such as Yukon Gold or Rattes, will work well in this salad.
Wine Tip: I particularly like a Provençal white with this salad. Now that La Vieille Ferme wines are widely available, I hope you’ll make them part of your pantry. They're great picnic wines.