These past couple of weeks have been so SO hot here in So Cal. I mean unbearably hot. And the last thing I really want to do when it’s hot, is cook. Standing over a stove, turning on the over, or even running a crock pot all day just seem to add to the stifling heat in my home. So salads it is…
This is a beautiful salad that I pulled from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook. I mostly find this book incredibly intimidating. Not only because it’s Thomas Keller, but because the book itself is overwhelming. It’s big, and has a LOT of text. The pictures are glossy and artsy fartsy.
I feel like looking through it (or any of his cookbooks for that matter) is like when I was a kid and I would just stare at the strange pictures and big words in the sets of encyclopedias we had in my house growing up. Figures that the one thing I would be willing to try is a salad…
It really is just a Salad Niçoise…with a new fancy name in English. So here is Keller’s recipe, translated into my much less intimidating way of saying things, you know…without all the fancy words that scare me.
Chilled Salad of Haricots Verts and Tomatoes
Salade Fraîche de Tomates et Haricots Verts
12oz haricots verts (I used just regular old green beans…)
1 small red onion
1 small fennel bulb
2 tsp Pernod
2+ tsp EVOO
Enough heirloom tomatoes to have 16 slices
3 hard boiled eggs, quartered
20 Niçoise Olives
4 boquerones anchovy fillets (these are the Spanish style ones. I think we couldn’t find any at the time we made this – it was a while back, big surprise – and just used regular anchovies. But the Spanish ones are yummy if you can find them – more vinegary than salty…)
1/4 c basil puree*
1 tbps + 1tsp Bouchon House Vinaigrette**
1/4 c minced shallot
1 tsp tarragon leaves
2 tsp minced chive
1 tsp chervil leaves
1 tsp Italian parsley
Kosher Salt and black pepper
1. Prep the green beans (You know…do that thing where you snap off the stemmy ends like when you used to watch your Grandma do it. Wait was that just me?) and then throw them into a pot of boiling water for 3-6 minutes, take them out and then and plunge into an ice bath. Chill in fridge until you need them.
2. Chop an onion in half through the root-y end and then chop so you have those nice long onion pieces. About 1 cup worth. Chill in the fridge. (It’s called a CHILLED salad remember…)
3. Cut off root and stems of the fennel and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the core. Slice crosswise nice and thin. You also need about a cup of this. Toss in a bowl with a little salt, the Pernod and 2 tsp of EVOO. Chill in the fridge.
4. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little EVOO. Chill in fridge.
Once everything is chilled, you’re going to put everything together.
5. In a bowl, throw the green beans, all the “dressing” ingredients, the onion, and the fennel mix, and toss.
6. To prep one plate: place 4 tomato slices on the bottom, mound 1/4 of the bean/onion/fennel mix on top of that. Then it gets 3 egg quarters, and 5 olives. Make it look pretty. Top with an anchovy fillet. Repeat 3 more times because this recipe is supposed to serve 4.
Easy Peasy, right?
*Keller makes a house basil puree…and he makes it sound complicated. It’s not.
8 oz basil (approx 4 cups)
A couple cloves of garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup evoo
Throw everything except about half of the evoo into a blender or food processor and whirl. Not too fast. (If you’re using the FP just pulse) Once the stuff starts breaking down, slowly add the rest of the oil and keep whirling until it’s pureed. Seriously. Not hard stuff.
1/4 c dijon mustard
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1 1/2 c canola oil
I like my stick blender for this because it’s easier to slowly incorporate the oil. But a food processor or a blender works for this too. Throw the vinegar and the dijon together and blend. While blending, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the oil. Then transfer to a bowl and slowly whisk in the rest of the oil. If you do it too fast the vinaigrette won’t emulsify properly. (Okay okay I used one fancy word. But I linked you to Wikipedia so you can understand it!) Chef Keller suggests that this will keep 2 weeks in the fridge, and if it separates you can re-blend in the blender.
You can buy the Bouchon Cookbook here. (I don’t get anything out of plugging it, btw. I’m just suggesting it’s a beautiful book with beautiful recipes and you should buy it.)