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.
Salads. Let’s be honest, most of us avoid them at all costs. It’s hard to imagine a salad as comfort food, and without bacon, can feel like a throw away at the dinner table. Most salads tend to have the same old ingredients of Romaine lettuce (let’s not even get started on iceberg lettuce), tomatoes and maybe some onions.
Yet, despite this, salads may be one of the most underrated dishes on our tables. With the right ingredients and proper treatment of those ingredients, the boring salad may just become the star of the show, or at least a great supporting role for an entree.
One overlooked trick to salads is roasting the vegetables ahead of time. Here, we are sharing two salads that are great for any occasion. First up, an arugula and fennel salad that can complement great seafood. We served this with our Lobster Boil to great success.
The second salad features roasted beets and watermelon radishes. The roasting of these vegetables provides a depth of flavor that is lacking in their raw or pickled forms, providing for a sweet, earthy taste that can ground any salad. For this salad, we used a simple lemon vinaigrette.
Roasted Fennel & Arugula Salad
1 large fennel bulb
3 cups arugula
1 large tomato, chopped
2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Shallot vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While
the oven is preheating, cut off the top of the fennel bulb and remove any tough
outer layers (you can reserve the tops and use them to make an amazing stock).
Slice the fennel in half, lengthwise and then
slice half moons out of the two fennel halves.
Place on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil,
salt, and pepper.
Place in the oven for 55-60 minutes, or until
fennel is tender with no resistance and fragrant.
Take the roasted fennel out of the oven and
allow to cool. These steps can be done a day or two ahead of time.
In a large bowl, add the arugula, tomato,
roasted fennel and goat cheese. Toss together gently to incorporate well.
Take the dressing and with a spoon, pour some
along the edge of the bowl all the way around. This will allow the dressing to
also seep into the bottom to lead to a better dressed salad. Add another
teaspoon or two over the center of the salad.
Toss gently to dress the salad. Serve
One small shallot, diced
2 tbsp vinegar of your choice (we used a citrus
6 tbsp olive oil
Place the shallots and vinegar in a small bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper.
While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify the mixture.
Dress your salad or save for later in the fridge.
Beet & Watermelon Radish Salad
3 medium beets
1 large watermelon radish, sliced into half-moons.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, place the beats onto a foil packet and lightly coat with olive oil. Close the packet up tightly. On a sheet tray, place the watermelon radish slices and coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Place both the beets and radishes into the oven (they can be on the same sheet tray), and roast for 55-60 minutes. Cook until the beets and radishes have no resistance when tested with a knife. The radishes may be done after 45 minutes depending on how large the slices are and varying oven temperatures.
Once cooked, take out of the oven and allow the vegetables to cool. Once the beets are cool to the touch, peel them. The outer layer should come out easily now. Once peeled, slice the beets into half-moons. Steps 1 through 3 may be done a day or two ahead of time.
In a large bowl, combine the beets, radishes, arugula and parsley. Toss gently. Add the lemon vinaigrette and toss gently again until well incorporated. Serve immediately.
We had a lot of leftover Lobster Boil. With fall being the season of transformation, we deiced to transform the boil as well. I had also been craving food from my adventures in New Orleans after coming across some Beignet mix from Cafe du Monde. Few dishes symbolize the festive city as much as jambalaya with its unique cajun flavors, smoked Andouille sausage, and fresh sea food. Here, we play off those key characteristics to transform one great dish into another.