I think I have a new favorite salad. It’s true love. Sadly, our relationship can’t last forever.
Isn’t she a beauty? Alas, our relationship is temporary because the ingredients are 90% seasonal. Our tomatoes are practically gone, and this is the last week for corn. Don’t even get me started about fresh cannellini beans and those tender green beans. Sigh.
Some mornings I wake up with wicked cravings. Recently, it was Salade Niçoise.
After a quick run to the market, I had absolutely every fresh ingredient I needed. The freshly shelled cannellini beans were the crowning jewel.
So pretty. I could hardly bear to throw away the bean’s papery, creamy husks.
The wannabe-stylist in me loved assembling this gargantuan salad. I thought about organizing all of the colors in a rainbow sequence, but then thought better of it. I was missing the color blue, anyway.
Adam surprised me with a few treats of his own, too, including this platter of ripe figs. I’ve learned so much about proper fruit from him — like a fig that isn’t jammy, oozy, sticky, and basically sugary mush isn’t worth eating. I’ve learned to steer clear of all of those firm, tasteless, expensive figs. Goodbye.
He had another surprise, too — wild Quebec blackberries, smaller than my pinkie fingernail, and so sweet and tender. I haven’t had this much fun eating blackberries since I lived in Portland and ate them everyday.
The finest kind of salad, in my opinion, is just thoughtful assembly. I once had a mindblowing Salade Niçoise in a small bistro in Paris, but honestly when you have ingredients this splendid and this fresh, nothing else will ever compare. Nothing else will ever come close. Ingredients to consider in varying degrees of proportion when putting together your own Salade Niçoise:
Sliced avocado (that would be my California upbringing rearing its head, saying, “put avocado in every salad you make, ever”)
Fresh, raw corn
Summery green beans, blanched briefly
Diced red onion, carrots, and celery
A fistful of freshly shelled cannellini beans, boiled until tender
Soft-boiled eggs (note: I hate hard-boiled eggs, but that would be the more traditional option)
New potatoes, boiled for 20 minutes, then cut into discs
Halved olives (we used Kalamata)
Can tuna packed in oil
Some kind of tender lettuce (I spotted some handsome heads of Boston lettuce at Birri recently)
Parsley to garnish; lemon vinaigrette to dress.
I’m really trying to enjoy my salad days while I can. And honestly, this was one of the best lunches I’ve had in along time.
“..My salad days, / When I was green in judgment, cold in blood…”