{my sister’s version} of salad nicoise, and how to boil eggs(!)

every one has their own version of salad nicoise. i keep mine simple: bib (butter) lettuce, steamed haricots verts, good tuna, olives, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, and {sometimes} boiled potatoes, topped with a good amount of lemony shallot vinaigrette (i leave out the anchovies, but add a small amount to the vinaigrette once in a while). no matter how you do it, a nice salad nicoise is an easy and satisfying option for a light and healthy summer lunch or dinner. in the south of france it is often served in  a round sandwich called pain bagnat (which means wet bread in nicoise dialect-probably because of the good amount of vinaigrette that’s added to the sandwich just before serving). my sister and i used to buy these for lunch from the little food trucks that sold them along the beaches-pain bagnat  is one of my favorite sandwiches ever, but i have never been able to reproduce that same particular {amazing} flavor at home. when my sister served {a rather large crowd} salad nicoise recently, she separated the lettuce and endives (her addition) on a platter. everyone then built their salads starting with the lettuce as a base and adding on whatever components they preferred from the lovely platter you see. i forgot to take a picture of the tuna (probably too busy enjoying my food as usual), but it was covered in delicious vinaigrette and sprinkled with sea salt and cracked black pepper. the egg yolks were an amazing deep orange color-my sister explained how you do this:

perfect boiled eggs: arrange the eggs in a single layer in a pan and cover them  with a good amount of water, then bring them to a boil without covering the pan, turn off the heat and let them stand for about 15 minutes. the white will be firm but slightly creamy, and  the yolk will be deep orange.
for 6-8 servings:
2-3 butter (bib) lettuce, separated, washed, and dried
5-6 organic eggs, cooked as above, slice in halves or quarters
1/4 cup good olives (with pits)
2-3 large ripe organic tomatoes, sliced
about 12 boiled baby potatoes, sliced
2 cups haricots verts, lightly steamed (or quickly boiled)
3-4 cans of good tuna (packed in olive oil) or 3-4 good fresh tuna steaks, lightly grilled
for lemon vinaigrette:

  • sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
  • 4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 large lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 2-3 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 shallot, very finely minced
  • 1/2 of an anchovy, very finely minced (optional)
  • whisk together until thickened
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