Perhaps you’ve noticed the online scramble to get as many tomato recipes posted as possible before summer comes to an end. I know what you’re thinking: Dimitri, you’ve been pouring Cherry Coke on pork, hardly seasonal! Yeah, I know, but it was great, wasn’t it? I mean Cherry Coke and pork; Escoffier would love it, I’m sure. Well, my summers are usually dominated by pizza and anything with plenty of colour. I love tomatoes and will do my best to eat them as often as possible because they’re just so good for you. In the salad I ate tonight, however, they were the least exciting ingredient and that doesn’t happen too often.
My wife, N, is of French descent and as such, her love of salad is not a secret. She loves nothing more than a plate of fresh salad to accompany her meals. Her appreciation of a well dressed or carefully prepared salad is something that must be earned. When N compliments me on one of my salads, I feel like I’ve truly achieved something (although I’ve never really achieved anything, so I’m only guessing that it feels that way). The pick of the bunch is, of course, a good ol’ Nicoise. We both love it because of the tasty balance of flavours.
The summer is beginning to fade, but that doesn’t mean we should start on the road to stews and soups just yet. Grab a bunch of ingredients and take some time preparing perhaps the greatest salad of them all.
Nicoise pittas (adapted from the French…all of them)
4 wholemeal pittas
4 ripe tomatoes (quartered)
handful Kalamata olives
2 eggs (hard-boiled and quartered)
1 tin tuna in sunflower oil (drained)
1 onion (finely chopped)
4 tblspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tspoon Dijon mustard
a handful of lettuce leaves (I used iceberg this time)
Begin by chopping the onion and placing it in a small bowl of water. Set this aside. The water makes the flavour of the onion milder which is a real boon when eating it raw as in this salad. Chop the lettuce leaves and place in a medium bowl. Make a dressing by whisking together the olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and the Dijon mustard. Add the tomatoes to the lettuce, pour over the dressing and toss together. Add the anchovies, tuna, olives and a little black pepper. Drain the water from the onion and sprinkle over the salad. It’s unlikely that you’ll need to add salt because the anchovies act as your seasoning. Toss the salad gently and then place the eggs on top.
You could serve the salad as it is, but tonight, we went for the handheld option. I grilled some pitta bread and filled each with the salad. A delightful meal for a summer evening. Take it from someone who is not a big fan of salads, this one is worth the effort.