Friends from Nice are about to arrive and with a week-end forecast promising sunshine, the obvious dish to prepare is a Salade Niçoise.
With a bit of luck, we may even eat outside!
It is a classic speciality from Provence and very easy to assemble.
Little cooking is required and it provides the essence of a Mediterranean diet all at once.
There are many versions of this salad but, in the end you can adapt the ingredients to your taste. Vegetarians who do not eat fish can simply omit the tuna and anchovies and replace them with avocado for instance.
Although it can be used as a starter, it is usually eaten as a main course as it contains proteins and plenty of vegetables and it is very substantial.
Part of this salad can be put inside a large bap to make a Pan Bagnat (Soaked Bread). This is then consumed on a picnic.
You simply use the tomatoes, tuna, anchovies and eggs drenched in the vinaigrette, hence the term Bagnat. It is best to prepare the sandwich in advance to allow the vinaigrette to soak the bread, wrap it in foil and place it in the fridge.
Serves 4 or 6:
50g red Camargue rice
4 small potatoes, peeled
200g very fine French green beans
2 large tomatoes, rinsed and quartered
1 green pepper, rinsed and cut into cubes
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
2 large tins tuna steak in brine, drained
1 tin anchovy fillets in olive oil
20 black olives
4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and quartered
A handful of basil leaves
For the vinaigrette:
100ml olive oil
20ml red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard
Salt and pepper
1. Steam the beans and potatoes until tender. Put aside to let them cool.
Then slice the potatoes.
2. Cook the rice in salted water for 20 minutes (This type of rice takes longer to cook but it has a delicious nutty flavour), drain and rinse in cold water.
3. In a large salad bowl put the rice, potatoes, anchovies and their oil, add all the other ingredients, sprinkle with the vinaigrette and toss.
A very cool rosé wine will add the final touch.