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.
We are back after a couple weeks of delay with some exciting news. I am officially moved into an apartment in Austin to continue my culinary knowledge and journey with an exploration of flavors. Before I left my fiance, however, to come to this brave new world of flavor, I prepared a dish that combined two of our favorite cuisines together: Indian food and Italian food.
Not a combination you see every day, true, but this vegetable korma risotto led to no leftovers. The spiciness of the East Asian flavors coupled with the saltiness of Parmesan in the risotto led for a decadent dish full of flavor. Want to go vegan? Sub out the risotto with some regular rice for a more classic pairing!
Vegetable Korma Risotto
For the Korma:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 28 oz. canned tomatoes, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
3 yellow potatoes, diced
12 oz cauliflower (either frozen or 1 head, trimmed and cut)
12 oz broccoli (either frozen or 1 head, trimmed and cut)
salt to taste
2 tbsp turmeric, ground
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
In a blender, blend the tomatoes, garlic and ginger. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add onions and carrots and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
Add jalapenos and cook until fragrant, approximately 30 to 60 more seconds, stirring.
Add potatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli. Cook approximately 8-10 minutes, stirring, until potatoes are seared.
Add puree mixture and remaining ingredients, scrapping bottom of pot as it is de-glazed. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
Cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, approximately 30-45 minutes depending on range. Adjust seasonings and serve.
For the Risotto:
1 cup short grained rice, like Arborio
6 cups good quality vegetable stock
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Parmasean, grated
Salt to taste
In a sauce pot, bring the stock to a simmer and keep it at a low simmer during the cooking process.
In a large pan, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt, and cook until translucent approximately 5-6 minutes. Add the rice, and cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring, until well coated with the onions and oils and beginning to toast.
Add approximately 1 cup of the hot stock to the pan, de-glazing it, and stirring frequently.
When the liquid is mostly absorbed by the rice, add another ladle of stock, continuing to stir frequently. Keep repeating this until the rice is cooked through and is al dente with a slight bite.
Stir in the cheese until incorporated and melted. The mixture will be thick. Taste and adjust salt as desired. Serve with the Korma above.