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Red Salad for a Red State

One of our favorite salads from a local restaurant is the Blue Salad. You might think we eat it to make a political statement, but actually it is because of the blueberries, blue cheese and blueberry dressing! So, in my goal to promote a bipartisan food dialogue and in recognition that I live in a red state, I decided to invent a red salad. I thinly sliced some spicy radishes, diced some roasted red beets, thinly sliced some candy stripe beets, and added julienne of a small red pepper (which my husband identified as a similar spice to a jalapeno–apparently I left a few seeds in the salad..oops). To moderate the red and pay tribute to the environment, I made a pesto from the green leafy tops of carrots from the farmers market (adding equal parts olive oil and unsalted butter, then some pinenuts and parmesan cheese to taste) and piled in the center some sliced greens. I must say–the red salad was delicious! Clearly, I can reach across the colors of vegetables!

Manly Salad on Mother’s Day?

Lately I’ve been craving a Nicoise Salad like the one I ordered at Balthazar in New York City (or just “The City” if you don’t live in Oklahoma where that means Oklahoma City).  I decided to make one for dinner on Saturday night, but my husband decided he was hungry for a “man meal” which meant steak on his hasty bake and (what else?!) a baked potato.  He was also nonplussed at the idea of “wasting” charcoal to sear the Tuna I bought on the grill.

I decided we would make the Nicoise Salad for the Mother’s day picinic he (I) and my son (I) had planned to celebrate Mother’s day.  It was actually perfect because we made the mise en place Saturday night and actually assembled the salad at the park!

The bad news: I forgot plates so we had to eat out of the plastic containers holding different components of the salad.

The good news:  It was delicious!  And my husband was surprised by how filling it was…for a salad.  (“I didn’t know this salad had potatoes in it!”)  We also had a delicious bottle of 2000 Dom Perignon champagne, followed by a bottle of Benessere Muscat Canelli Frizzante which was WAY too sweet for our salad.

Here’s the recipe for the salad:

Elizabeth’s Mother’s Day Nicoise Salad

Serves 4

  • 4 6-ounce tuna steaks
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 dozen small purple or new potatoes
  • 1/3 pound green beans (or thin haricots verts), ends trimmed
  • Mixed Greens (Julia Child says butter lettuce, but I saw mixed greens at the farmer’s market)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved *see note
  • ½ cup Niçoise olives
  • 4 organic, large eggs, hard-boiled and cut into wedges
  • Dijon Vinaigrette

1. Preheat grill or grill-pan over medium-high heat. Rub tuna steaks with the olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper, and grill until cooked to your liking (some people like a mere sear on the outside, but feel free to cook it all the way through). Let the tuna cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into ½-inch thick slices.  Or, put it in the fridge and serve it cold the next afternoon!)

2. Meanwhile, steam the potatoes for 20 minutes (or until cooked through) and the green beans for 7 minutes and let them cool. Cut the potatoes in half.

3. Arrange the lettuce on a big platter (or 2 small plastic containers if you forgot a plate). Lay the green beans, tomatoes and olives over the lettuce. Arrange the potatoes and eggs around the edge. Lay the slices of tuna on top. Drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Dijon Viniagrette

  • 2 parts olive oil
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste