Next to the greek variety, Salade Niçoise is one of my favorites. Normally, it’s a composed dish with everything arranged artfully (but separately) on a platter. But for lunch on a Tuesday, the only artfully arranged dish we’re likely to get will be at a restaurant — hopefully as someone’s guest – or maybe entertaining clients courtesy of an American Express expense account.
For most of us, weekday lunches must be planned, lest we wind up with a sad vending machine melange at the last minute. I like to make a salad on Sunday that can carry me through most of the week and this is a good example of that type of prep.
You get all the flavors of a salad niçoise, but in a more convenient and portable tupperware-ready form.
I used farro for this salad, but you could easily substitute brown or white rice or orzo pasta.
You’ll want some fresh veg – blanched green beans are a must and since I usually like roasted bell peppers with this salad, I added some raw ones here for crunch.
Niçoise olives are what make a Salade Niçoise. Trouble is, they’re not always readily available in the supermarket. It’s hit or miss. Niçoise olives are very small olives with a low flesh to seed ratio. They are cured in the French Riviera and most are eaten domestically — which is probably why they’re harder to come by here. No matter, if you can’t find them, use some briny kalamata olives instead.
Tangy capers and jarred baby artichokes add pizzaz to this salad along with the chew of some oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes.
If you wanted to go the extra mile here and splurge, get the fancy (read: $$$) Ventresca tuna from the belly of the fish or one of the jarred premium varieties packed in oil ($$). Just be aware that if you’re paying that premium, you want large chunks of the prize, so toss it gently into the salad. Since this was for workaday lunches, I didn’t splurge at all. I used regular water-packed tuna – and it was delicious.
Lots of bright, fresh tarragon in the citrus vinaigrette ties this dish together and makes it pop with flavor.
Even if you’re sitting in a cubicle, you can close your eyes and pretend your enjoying this inventive brown-bag fare on the Côte d’Azur.
Don’t forget the hard-boiled egg as garnish. It’s a must!
niçoise farro salad
- 8 ounces green beans trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 cup farro cooked according to package directions and cooled to room temperature
- 1 yellow or red bell pepper diced
- 1 stalk celery finely diced
- 1/2 cup red onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup nicoise olives or kalamata olives pitted and halved or quartered
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil well drained, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 10- ounce jar cocktail baby artichokes halved or regular artichoke hearts, quartered
- 2 7 ounce cans chunk white tuna fish drained and flaked
- 1 hard-boiled egg per person
for the vinaigrette
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 large shallot minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Create a water bath. Fill a medium bowl halfway with ice and water. Set aside.
Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water. Add a teaspoon of salt and fit the pan with a lid. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the lid and add the green beans. Cook the beans for 4-5 minutes until crisp tender. Use a spider or slotted spoon to scoop the beans from the water and plunge them into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Set aside.
Add the farro to the bean water and cook for the time recommended on the package directions. When the farro is done, drain in a colander or sieve and return the farro to the pot. Place the lid on the pot and set aside for about 10 minutes -- this last part allows the farro to steam a little in the pot. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside without the lid to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl add the bell pepper, celery, red onion, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, artichokes and tuna. Toss to combine.
Make the vinaigrette
In a small bowl combine the zest and juice of the lemon, shallot, tarragon, vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
Assemble the salad
Add the farro to the vegetables and toss. Add the vinaigrette and toss so that vegetables and farro are coated with the dressing.
To serve, mound the salad on a plate. Halve or quarter the eggs and arrange them on or beside the salad. Serve.