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Farm Fresh: Combine summer's best flavors in a tasty salad

Thursday, August 03, 2000

Tested by Betsy Kline

We've tasted many versions of Salade Nicoise in our many summers, but this remains our favorite. It comes from the 1981 "The Pittsburgh Press Cookbook" by Marilyn McDevitt Rubin, whose columns appear every Sunday in the PG's Sunday Magazine section.

It uses lots of fresh vegetables, dressed up with premium canned albacore tuna, tangy olives and perky anchovies. We use fresh herbs instead of dried. We've made only minor adaptations from the original recipe. This recipe is easily halved.

Salade Nicoise

Salad dressing:
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup corn oil or mixed corn and olive oil
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 teaspoons prepared mustard (we use Dijon)

5 medium red potatoes, cooked, peeled and sliced thin
2 pounds greens beans, cooked crisp-tender
2 green peppers, cut in thin rounds (or 1 green, 1 red)
2 cups thinly sliced celery
2 medium red onions, cut in paper-thin slices and broken into rings
1 bunch watercress, snipped into small sprigs, optional
3 (7-ounce) cans oil-packed tuna, drained and broken into chunks
1 (2-ounce) can flat anchovy fillets, drained and blotted on a paper towel
1/2 cup snipped parsley
1/3 cup finely chopped green onion, including 2 inches of green stalk
2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
8 to 10 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered
1 pint cherry tomatoes (grape tomatoes are even better)
Pimento-stuffed olives
Black olives, Greek or Italian, if available

For salad dressing: Crush garlic and salt in mortar with pestle. In medium-sized jar, combine garlic, salt, corn oil and olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Shake to mix. Refrigerate if made in advance.

For salad: In a large bowl or platter, artfully arrange potato slices, beans, celery, peppers, onions and watercress. Mound tuna in center. Arrange anchovies over top. Combine parsley, green onions, basil and thyme and scatter over top. Place egg wedges, tomatoes and olives around the edges.

Presentation: Bring bowl or platter to the table and allow guests to serve themselves. Serve with vinaigrette on the side. Makes 8 to 10 servings. Makes a meal with just a baguette as accompaniment.

If you have a fruit or vegetable that you would like to see featured, please call food editor Suzanne Martinson at 412-263-1760 or e-mail us at aburnett@post-gazette.com. or bkline@post-gazette.com. We're also looking for easy-to-make, quick recipes that highlight the fabulous flavors of fresh produce. Send to Farm Fresh, PG Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

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