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Sicilian Salade Niçoise

On a hot and humid summer day in Bruculinu, Schiavelli's favorite Friday dinner was Papa Andrea's interpretation of salade niçoise. The tang of the vinegar and lemon juice was refreshing and restorative. For this dish, he has coordinated the preparation of the component salads, but you may serve each one separately.

For the Potato Salad

2 1/2 pounds white or red new potatoes or Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes
Sea salt
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/3 - 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper

For the Green Bean Salad

2 1/2 pounds green beans
1 garlic clove, peeled and left whole
Sea salt
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil

For the Egg Halves

6 large eggs

For the Tuna Salad

2 4-ounce cans chunk light tuna, packed in spring water
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 1/2 lemons
2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
Sea salt

For the Tomato Salad

6 ripe Roma tomatoes
Sea salt
Dried oregano
Extra-virgin olive oil

For the Garnish

12-ounce can anchovies, packed in olive oil
Large green olives
Oil-cured black olives

Prepare the potato salad: Peel the potatoes, cut them into 1 1/2 -inch cubes and put them in a pot of lightly salted cold water over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until cooked through but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. While they are still very hot, add the onion and toss. Pour in the oil and toss again. Taste for salt, adding more if necessary, and add several grindings of black pepper. As the potato salad cools, it will absorb the olive oil. Do not cover or refrigerate.

Prepare the green bean salad: Clean the green beans and snap off the ends. Place a steamer on the stove with the garlic in the water. When it comes to a boil, put the beans in the steamer basket. Steam the beans until tender, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on their thickness. Transfer to a platter. While they are still hot, season with salt and toss. Add the vinegar and toss again. Drizzle with oil, toss again and let cool at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

Prepare the eggs: Pierce the large end of each egg with a pin to prevent cracking. Put the eggs in a small pot, cover with cold water and cook for about 10 minutes after the water comes to a boil. Drain the eggs and run them under cold water to stop the cooking and loosen the shells, but do not peel the eggs until assembling the salad.

Prepare the tuna salad: Put the tuna in doubled cheesecloth. Twist and squeeze to remove all the water. Put the tuna in a bowl and mix in the oil and black pepper and then fold in the capers, taking care not to crush them. Taste for salt and add if necessary. The tuna salad may be refrigerated in a tightly sealed container.

Prepare the tomato salad: Just before you are ready to assemble the salad, cut the tomatoes lengthwise into quarters or sixths. Assemble the salad: Choose a platter large enough to hold everything. Place the potato salad at one end. Place the tomatoes in a layer next to the potato salad. Season them with salt and generously sprinkle with dried oregano. Drizzle with oil. Arrange the green bean salad in a pile beside the tomatoes, across the plate. Spoon the tuna onto the platter next to the beans. Peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthwise. Drape each half with an anchovy and a bit of the anchovy oil. Place the eggs and olives around the rim of the platter and serve.

"Bruculinu, America" by Vincent Schiavelli

Thursday, July 29, 1999

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