Pacific Coast Nicoise Salad
The Nicoise salad was conceived in Province France but is simply a combination of the available ingredients in the spring season. It’s as fresh as it gets and that is the really the whole point and only point of the Nicoise salad to begin with. Living in the northwest I like to see if I can sometimes make recipes using only ingredients that I have personally collected which is very much possible with this salad. The Nicoise salad is easy to prepare, in fact once all the ingredients are ready, there is nothing more to it than just arranging it together after a few of the ingredients are prepped beforehand by first cooking and then using an ice bath to cool. I usually do the beets the day before and then fix up the asparagus, potatoes, and eggs the morning I put the salad together.
Pacific Coast Nicoise Salad:
Mixed lettuce or micro greens
4 small beets
Fingerling or other young potatoes (apprx) 2 handfuls
Handful of Asparagus
Apple cider vinegar
Egg- Add eggs to a pot and fill with water, covering eggs by a couple of inches. Place lid on and bring to a bowl. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil. Set timer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat strain and add eggs to an ice bath (a bowl of cold water with ice cubes). Let eggs sit for 10 minutes in ice bath before peeling and storing in fridge. You can cook hard boiled eggs for between a minimum of 4 minutes to a maximum of 9 minutes. At 4 minutes the eggs will be very creamy but also likely break up when peeling and slicing. An egg cooked for 9 minutes will be bone dry and solid. I think 7 minutes is perfect for this recipe but I do recommend experimenting.
Beets– for this procedure we are going to fix up some quick pickled beets. They can be made the morning of or several days ahead as the should easily keep for a week or two. Chop the tops off the beets and leave the skins intact. Add beets to a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. When water comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Poke with a fork to make sure they are done. Strain the beautiful beet colored water and add the beets to an ice bath. After sitting for a few minutes, slide the skins off with the hands and slice the beets. Add sliced beets to a mason jar. Slice up part of a red onion and add this to the jar as well and pack down. Next, add a pinch of salt, a squirt of honey, a tarragon sprig and fill the jar with Apple cider vinegar, just enough to cover the beets. Place lid on jar, give it a gentle shake and store in the fridge until ready for use.
Potatoes-Add potatoes to a pot and add enough water to cover by I inch. Place on stove and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-13 minutes. A fork poke test at the 10 minute mark will let you know if/how much longer they need to cook. Strain, put in a bowl and allow to cool in the fridge until ready to use.
Asparagus-This time bring a small amount of water to a bowl. Add asparagus and let it return to a bowl, cook 1 minute, remove and strain. Put asparagus in an ice bath for a few minutes before straining and setting in fridge.
Putting it all together-
The dressing- Add ½ tsp salt to a large bowl. Bring a small amount of water to a boil and add 1 tbsp water to the salt. Move the bowl in a circular motion to dissolve the salt in the water. Next add 2 Tbsp’s of Apple Cider vinegar and then 4 Tbsp’s of olive oil, whisk with a fork. Carefully toss the mixed greens with your hands and place a handful in the middle of each plate. There will probably be leftover dressing in the bowl, save this.
Leave the potatoes whole, but cut up the pea pods. Place the vegetables and smoked trout around the salad greens. Drizzle the leftover dressing over the potatoes, and asparagus on each plate. Peel the egg and slice thinly. A tip to help guide the knife through the egg without roughing it up too much is to add a little olive oil to the blade so it slides through easier. Add to plate. Chop the tarragon and chives and sprinkle on top of the entire plate, covering everything with at least some herbs. Drizzle a little more olive oil if desired.
A glass of pinot Rose’ goes just right with a Nicoise salad. In fact, its kinda important.