By Michael Elmore
A niçois salad can be controversial. Traditionalists swear it must only include raw vegetables. Modernists appreciate changes that were recommended in the late 19th century that added eggs and potatoes (cooked, of course). It is the one salad that nobody can seem to agree on.
This twist certainly is not traditional in some ways. It welcomes the history of the origins of a niçois, however, developed by peasants who could not afford much and focused on fresh regional vegetables available to them and the tuna and anchovies available in the nearby seaports. This takes that same approach.
Moving to Austin and having access to abundant and fresh southwest flavors, we’ve incorporated the regional aspect of the origins of the salad. Here, instead of vinegar and olive oil, we replace it with a salsa verde with tangy tomatillios, spicy jalapenos, and zesty limes.
Ingredients for tomatillo sauce:
- 1.5 pounds tomatillos, paper and stems removed
- 1 jalapeno, stem removed
- 1 red onion, peeled and stems removed, chopped
- 1 avocado, pit and skins removed
- 2 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- Zest and juice of two limes
- Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If you wish for a less spicy salsa verde, seed the jalapeno prior to blending.
- Put in a container and put in fridge for at least an hour so flavors meld.
Ingredients for guacamole:
- 1 avocado, pit and skin removed
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- ½ tsp cumin
- Juice of one lime
- ¼ tsp salt
- Prior to plating, mash all ingredients using a mortar and pestle or the back of a fork.
- 1 can of tuna, drained
- Zest and juice of one lime
- ¼ tsp of salt
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Take one radish and slice thinly. Using a ring mold, first put the guacamole for the first layer in the middle of a plate. Next, pack the tuna mixture tightly. Arrange the radish in a layer. Place in fridge for approximately 5 minutes.
- Remove plate from fridge and add a teaspoon on top of the layers, removing the ring mold carefully. Spoon salsa verde in a circle around the plate and serve immediately.