Thursday, March 1, 2012

Particularly Delicious Dinner Tonight!

After Julia's very successful pasta fazool dinner, I decided to try out another recipe from our new favorite website: Before I get going about tonight's dinner, let me fill you in on Julia's Pasta Fazool... It was delicious! Almost like an Italian version of chili. It was hearty, meaty, truly scrumptious; perfect for a chilly night in New York City.

I'm a major niçoise salad fan, I might go so far as to say "connoisseur", so when I saw that my new best friend (sorry Julia) had a recipe for a niçoise salad, I couldn't resist. I was particularly curious about his "Master Dressing". What a name! How couldn't this be good, I ask you!?

Niçoise Salad Recipe

for master dressing (! ! ! !)
1/2 C good quality olive oil
1/4 C champagne vinegar
1/2 tsp hot sweet mustard
1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
1 Tbs minced shallots
1 tsp kosher salt (less if you use regular salt)
pepper to taste
for haricots vert
1/2 lbs haricots vert (these are just fresh green beans, called by their fancy pants french name. Don't be intimidated...)
2 Tbs master dressing
for tomatoes
16 baby tomatoes, sliced in half

       for potatoes
       6 small fingerling potatoes
       3 Tbs master dressing 
       1 Tbs minced parsley
for salad
1 head of romaine lettuce (we prefer to make this a slightly more substantial salad, so we make it with 4 cups of arugula instead, but I'm sure either way is terrific.)
3 medium boiled eggs peeled and quartered
Niçoise olives
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
1 tsp minced fresh oregano
1 can Italian tuna in olive oil (see my note below for tuna guidance)
1 can anchovies (optional)
To make the dressing just whisk all the ingredients for the master dressing together. Other things will get added to this base as we season each item.
For the potatoes, boil them in well salted water until you can just barely pass a fork through them (they should still be a little firm). Remove them from the water and allow them to cool enough to handle. Toss them with 3 Tbs of dressing and parsley. Add salt and pepper as needed and set aside. This can be made in advance.
For the haricots vert, return the potato water to a boil and add more salt (it should taste like the ocean). Prepare an ice bath by filling a bowl with water and ice cubes. Add the haricots vert and boil until they’re bright green and tender, but they still have a bit of crunch (a minute or two, longer if you’re using older beans). Drain and put them into the ice bath to “shock” them, this should make them turn a very vibrant green color. You don’t want to dress these too early since the vinegar will make them discolor. If you’re doing this in advance, wrap them and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve them. 
For the tomatoes, toss them with a little master dressing, salt and pepper. *Note that we've made some revisions to the original recipe to keep this dinner simple and straight forward. If you want to see it in its original form, check back on

To assemble the salad, add the oregano and thyme to the master dressing and toss the whole lettuce leaves in enough dressing to coat each leaf. Lay them down on a serving platter then arrange the potatoes, haricots vert, tomatoes, boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, tuna and anchovies around the plate. 
**Tuna Tour: When we make our niçoise salad, we like to splash out and buy la-de-dah tuna, to make it a little more "dinner" and a little less "lunch." John and I have done extensive tuna research, and are top two favorites are Cole's Tuna in Olive Oil and Flott's Tuna Ventresca . However, we've also had good results with the Ortiz brand pictured above, so go with whatever you can find at your local grocery store. 

Enjoy your dinner! We sure did! 
We're headed up to the country on Saturday, with paint in hand. We're determined to GET THAT BATHROOM FINISHED!

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