Friday, October 3, 2008

Company Worthy Salad Nicoise


When you have guests visiting, do you stick to your regular cooking routine and recipes, or do you perk it up a bit? I was pondering that question last night. My wonderful dad and his sweet wife are visiting us this week, and I find that I am most definitely perking it up a bit. I don't know why that is really. My dad and are are close, he knows me and my cooking quite well, and, besides, my dad is so easy to please and his wife is always so complimentary that I know I don't need to do anything different from usual. I think that I must be channeling both my late grandma and late mom in that when company comes, you take good care of them, prepare your meal with love and care, and you never let anyone leave your house hungry. No problem there ... I like to feed people.

Yesterday was a drizzly day here in the Pacific Northwest, and in the culinary department, I just wanted to hold onto summer a little bit longer. What to do, what to do. Soup and salad sounded just right ... soup for the warmth and comfort, and salad for the crunchy, summery feel. But with company here, a regular tossed salad would not do. I remembered seeing a wonderful recipe called Salad Nicoise in one of my well loved older cookbooks (Cookery for 1 or 2 by Barbara Swain). This cookbook was one of the very first that I purchased right before I got married, and fell in love with it. Although my cooking requirements have evolved beyond feeding 1 or 2 people, this cookbook retains its place of honor on my shelf.

People, this salad is GOOD and so company-worthy!!! It can easily stand on its own with a thick slice of bread. I pared it with homemade chicken and rice soup, and had to refrain from making multiple yummy noises ... I had company after all!

This salad took some organizational effort, but was quite easy to make. It's so pretty to look at, don't you think? I almost didn't want to toss it before serving! Every single bit was eaten. When I cleared the dishes, the salad serving bowl was clean!

Here's what you do: Boil some baby red potatoes that have been cut in bite size halves or quarters, until tender. While potatoes are boiling, prepare a simple french vinaigrette by whisking 3 parts Olive oil, 1 part white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice, little bit of whole grain mustard or dijon mustard, few shakes of garlic salt, freshly ground pepper, and your favorite herbs. Drain potatoes and immediately toss with vinaigrette. Set aside to marinate. Do the same with the green beans; marinate separately from the potatoes. Layer lettuce in the bottom of a large serving bowl. Arrange the following items in their own section on top of lettuce: marinated potatoes, marinated green beans, hard boiled eggs-quartered, slice tomatoes, olives - I used plain old black olives because that's what my guests like, but use whatever type you like including nicoise olives!, and good quality tuna or even grilled tuna would be terrific. Prepare another vinaigrette, same as before, but this time add some finely diced shallot or red onion. Drizzle over the salad. A traditional salad nicoise calls for layering anchovies on top. My guests and hubbyman opted not for the anchovies; however, as I love anchovies, I lovingly layered mine on as well as ate their portions of the little salty strips, too. Serve this immediately at room temperature or refrigerate it and serve cold. If you don't have guests, make yummy noises. Oh, and this salad is gluten free, all the way, baby!

What are your favorite dishes to serve guests? Since my company will be here for a couple more days, I'd love to hear any recipe suggestions you may have!

28 comments:

The Blonde Duck said...

I love that salad. I always wondered what Salad Nicoise was.

Marjie said...

That salad's so pretty! Nothing wrong with using a cookbook for 2; you just multiply. Heck, that's what I do with "normal" recipes! And when your son gets just a touch bigger, you'll be multiplying your food again!

Chicken with lemon is a good choice; I wrote about it a while back. Serve over a bed of rice for your little one. Lemons make it seem summery, but it's still warming in the drizzly weather!

Glad your family's visiting; have fun!

Pam said...

Stunning! What a beautiful and delicious salad. I love all the ingredients and the dressing sounds simple but perfect. Have fun with your family!

noble pig said...

It is perfectly company worthy and I'm sure they loved it!

The colors look so great too!

Jan said...

I'm not surprised the salad bowl was clean, that salad looks fabulous. I love it, and am definitely going to be taking this one for a spin.

Esi said...

Looks so good! I like serving recipes to guests that taste really comforting and look like they took a long time, but really was not much effort on my part!

Linda said...

What a wonderful, healthy looking salad. I usually rely on my old standbys when company comes and just pretty up the table a bit more:)

Cheryl said...

Oohhh my goodness that looks sooooo good! I usually serve lasagna, mexican food of some sort or barbequeue!

p.s. is it muggy there too! I hate it!

Pam said...

This salad looks great! I always serve casserole type things to company, so that I can always make sure I have enough. I'm very paranoid that someone will not get enough!

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

well done - this is a meal on its own. excellent arrangement of shape and colour

Aggie said...

What a beautiful salad! Love it!

Kevin said...

That is a hearty looking salad.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Truely worthy for company Paula! I love sitting around the table and taking a little bit of this and a little bit of that! Everything looks so healthy and good for us!

RecipeGirl said...

Beautiful! I love salad nicoise. Yes, I do tend to step it up a bit when I'm feeding others...even if it's just family!

Jan said...

That does look like one yummy salad!

Bellini Valli said...

Salad Nicoise is perfect company fare. I sa a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa using salmon that I must try. I like the idea of holding on to summer:D

Lulu Barbarian said...

Beautiful salad! I love the presentation, each component separate.

Peter M said...

The Nicoise always looks so festive, great colours & it got my attention.

Sara said...

I love composed salads like this!

Paula said...

Hi Everyone! Thanks for stopping by! The past few weeks have been crazy as we are getting used to our school routines. Even so, know that I read each and every comment and appreciate hearing from you!

The Blonde Duck: It is such a great salad, I wonder why we don't see it more often!

Marjie: I thought about you while I was cooking this week for just two extra people, but needed more pans! I would think ... now what would Marjie do!

Pam: The salad dressing provided a simple yet perfect balance of flavor to this diverse salad!

Noble Pig: The colors really made it beautiful, and my guests devoured it.

Jan: Let me know if you try it. It is a very hearty salad and is a meal unto itself!

Esi: I have to admit that it did make a great presentation!

Linda: Great idea to pretty up the table. Plus, this is a new table so it helped with the pretty department.

Cheryl: It has been muggy here ... I bet we live in the same neck of the woods!

Pam: I'm the same way and end up making enough to feed the entire neighborhood!

Mediterranean Kiwi: This really was quite filling. Next time I'm going to serve it with bread (and your oil and tomato mixture!).

Aggie: It was lovely to look at and eat!

Kevin: It was hearty indeed!

Proud Italian: The meal and conversation around the table was lively and so wonderful!

RecipeGirl: I really enjoy having my dad around! He's willing to eat just about anything!

Jan: It was hard not to make yummy noises while I ate it!

Bellini Valli: Oooh, I like the idea of using salmon! Yum!

Lulu Barbarian: I enjoy composed salads. This one was so pretty I almost didn't want to toss it together when it was time to serve it!

Peter: Thanks! This salad is quite pleasing to the eye!

Sara: Thanks for stopping by! This salad is very good!

syrie said...

Ooh I love nicoise and yours looks perfect. I like the way you've styled it in on the plate. Makes it easier to get a bit of everything. Company-worthy indeed!

Grace said...

i'll take mine without anchovies too. :) it's definitely company-worthy--hope you had a nice weekend with them. :)

Deborah said...

I was going to say that I could eat this as a complete meal! And I was just telling my husband yesterday that we need to start eating more salads - this would fit the bill!

Lo said...

I just need to OOOH and AHHH a bit over that salad. It looks lovely, and I'll bet it tastes just as good.

I hope your visit with your dad continues to be great...

Katherine Aucoin said...

What an elegant looking salad. Very well done.

Bridgett said...

This is a gorgeous salad, Paula! The time and effort and love that went into this would only receive positive reviews. The colors are very inviting as well. I always look for something a bit more special when family or friends come around and you proved that the simple ingredients have a huge impact as well.
I hope you enjoy your visit!

Candy said...

Beautiful! Looks good enough to eat!

Jeena said...

Give me a plate of this salad any day of the week! This is such a wholesome rustic dish and it looks amazing wow!