simple dinner: nicoise salad with all the fixings
Years ago, a lady friend asked for a go-to easy weeknight recipe, and while the man waxed poetic about roast chickens and salsa verdes, I immediately went to this salad. When feeding just myself, the criteria is often quite simple: basic protein (because crisping up chicken or ovening a whole fish is just Too Much for one), lots of vegetables, and done in under 20 minutes, ideally with only brainless chopping.
Enter the Nicoise: a classic for a very good reason. You have all the elements of the ideal salad: base green, crunch of crisp vegetable, creaminess of egg, and saltiness of fish. And more importantly, it is infinitely malleable and extremely easy.
Everyone has their own version, and I scale this up or down pending on what's handy, but I do strongly recommend prepping enough for at least two nights, because the only thing better than a 20-minute dinner is a 2-minute dinner.
- Mixed salad greens (I like mesculan-y or slightly bitter mixes for this)
- Green beans
- A tomato, only if it's not mealy and easily available
- Little potatoes, only if handy and you have the time/energy to boil em in advance
- Shallots, again only if available
- Eggs, generally 2 per person per meal because they're delicious
- A can of oil-packed tuna
- Dijon mustard, grainy or not
- White wine vinegar
- Olive oil
- A lemon
- Olives or oil-packed anchovies if you're super fancy
- Bread for serving, as always.
Boil your eggs so they are firm but still beautifully, brightly orange in the middle. (Or not: your preference on this one, but if you ARE into delicious things, this is my favorite method).
Make the dressing: Mix up olive oil, white wine vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon, and chopped shallot if using. You want the mustard level to be just over comfortable at this stage, and I'd suggest keeping it relatively thick.
If adding potatoes, I strongly recommend chopping them down to bitesized and then letting them sit in some dressing while you prep the rest. (This can be done well in advance -- chill the potatoes and then just bring them down to room temperature before eating.)
Prep your greens, if you're that much of an adult, or just dump a box into a bowl. Blanch green beans if you like. Slice up tomato if using.
Combine greens, green beans, conceptual tomato and potatoes, plus a can of tuna (I'd suggest keeping it relatively chunky when adding so it doesn't totally disintegrate), and any other things you feel like throwing in. Dress the salad, place on plates, then slice your eggs in half and add as well. Or: keep it deconstructed, and feel terribly french, all on a monday's night.