Niçoise to meet you!

Niçoise-inspired Summer Salad

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I love anchovies.  As I have gotten older and wiser (that second one’s debatable), I have come to the very mature realization that my father was right about everything.  Especially food preferences.  Shredded Wheat Big Biscuits, olives, cottage cheese, mushrooms, and canned fish of every variety.  Sardines, kippers, anchovies, you name it.  This is not to say that I’ll sit down with a tin of ‘chovies and a fork, but I have since come to appreciate and embrace the flavoring power of the humble anchovy, and you should do the same!

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This Niçoise-esque salad offers a nice foray into responsible anchovy use.  I call for “5 anchovy fillets, finely minced” in this recipe, but what I really should say is, “finely minced anchovies, to taste.”  Personally, I use the whole can, but that’s just me…I’m a bit fishy.  If you’re new to anchovies, 4-5 fillets is a good starting point.  TRUST ME!!! Unless you’re really bad at mixing things and somebody ends up with a forkful of JUST minced anchovy, nobody will even know they’re there.  The anchovies lend a pleasantly salty and savory flavor to the dish, without overpowering any of the other components.

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I named this salad as “Niçoise-inspired,” since a traditional Niçoise salad uses white potatoes and green beans, instead of sweet potatoes and kale.  But hey, this is the 21st century, everyone loves kale (or wants to love kale), and everyone now hates white starches (for better or for worse), so why not switch up the classic?!  This salad is great as a light dinner on a hot summer night or as a picnic side dish.  So, give anchovies a chance, and try this recipe!

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Niçoise-inspired Summer Salad

SALAD:
2 large sweet potatoes, cubed (peeled, if desired)
1/2 cup dried Great Northern beans (alternatively, you may use 1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained)
1 medium onion, super-finely sliced
12 oz. kale, roughly chopped
1/2 cup black or green olives, chopped
1/4 cup raisins, optional
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
VINAIGRETTE:
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1/2″ knob of ginger, finely minced or grated
5 anchovy fillets, finely minced
1 tablespoon coarse-grain prepared Dijon mustard
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Big handful fresh dill, tough stems removed and fronds chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
TOPPING:
Hard boiled eggs, sliced or chopped
More chopped walnuts

 

Soak beans in cold water overnight, then drain.
In a large glass bowl or dish, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients.  Add onions, and let sit 10 minutes to allow the acids to soften the onions.  Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in kale until all leaves are coated.  Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit on counter for 30-50 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes to ensure even coating of leaves with vinaigrette.  Kale leaves should gradually wilt and take up less space in the bowl as they sit in the vinaigrette (which is a good thing because A LOT of other stuff has to fit in this bowl).
In a medium saucepan, place sweet potato and soaked beans, cover with water, and bring to a boil.  Let boil 15 minutes, until potatoes just begin to soften.  Use a colander to carefully drain the potatoes and beans.  Let sit 10 minutes to allow for slight cooling. *NOTE:  if using canned beans instead of dried, do not boil beans with potatoes, just mix them in with the other ingredients in the next step
Add potatoes, beans, olives, raisins, and walnuts to the bowl of wilted kale, onions, and vinaigrette.  Toss gently, trying not to break up the potato chunks.  Serve at room temperature, topped with sliced or chopped hard boiled egg and sprinkled with walnuts.  Store leftovers in refrigerator.

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