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Salade Nicoise

When green beans, tomatoes and new potatoes are at their sweet best, this is my favourite main course summer salad. The classic version stars canned tuna and anchovies but fresh grilled albacore tuna, salmon or chicken may be used instead and the anchovies omitted as I have below. The elements of the salad can be prepared in advance and assembled just before serving.

1 head butter or red-leaf lettuce
1 pound green beans, cooked and refreshed
vinaigrette (recipe follows)
salt and pepper
6 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges or 24 cherry tomatoes, halved
12 small new potatoes, cooked and sliced
6 albacore tuna steaks, grilled rare
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
2/3 c. Nicoise olives (pictured above are Kalamata olives)
3 T. capers
3 T. minced parsley and/or basil

Arrange lettuce leaves on a large platter or on individual plates as shown. Toss the beans, tomatoes and potatoes with spoonfuls of vinaigrette and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange on plate and add egg halves, olives and capers, drizzling more vinaigrette over salad. Garnish with parsley or basil and serve. Serves 6.

Vinaigrette
1 T. minced shallot
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 T. lemon juice
3 T. red wine or sherry vinegar
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil, or grapeseed oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Whisk shallot, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar in small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. I like a slightly acidic vinaigrette, but acid and oil can be adjusted to your own taste.

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