Making Julia Child’s Salad Nicoise

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My first introduction to Julia Child’s salad Nicoise was in conjunction with the local high school French club, where I occasionally volunteered my time to assist with their events.

Making Julia Child's Salad Nicoise | Foodal.com

They had a luncheon scheduled for the next day. I worked until well past midnight, discovering a recipe far more complex than any I had initially realized. A salad? What’s the big deal?

My first mistake was neglecting to read the entire recipe at the outset. Like so many of Julia Child’s recipes, salad Nicoise includes recipes embedded within the recipe.

In the case of salad Nicoise, one needs to prepare an oil and lemon dressing, as well as a French potato salad, prior to embarking on the main event.

These recipes are included below, directly following the original recipe for salad Nicoise.

My second mistake was following the Julia Child recipe to the letter. Salad Nicoise includes some essential ingredient groups that make it into a meal:

1) Healthy, fresh vegetables

2) Starch, usually potatoes

3) Protein, usually hard boiled eggs, tuna canned in oil, and tinned anchovies.

Don’t be afraid to experiment within these ingredient groups, especially with the vegetables.

Salad Nicoise as Describe in Julia Child's "The Way We Cook" | Foodal.com

Salad Nicoise provides the perfect opportunity to create a beautiful and colorful presentation of seasonal vegetables. For example, you may substitute other types of greens for the Boston lettuce (butter lettuce) that’s called for in the recipe.

Or, you might want to add asparagus. They look beautiful and taste great in a cold salad.

Roasted red peppers also make a stunning addition that Julia Child would likely appreciate.

Try experimenting with the salad dressing as well. Trying to figure out which type of oil to choose? This article can help.

When I make this dish today, I always prepare the potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and dressing a day in advance. I experiment with different varieties of new potatoes, and sometimes keep the skins on.

A suggestion to assist in serving your own version is to prepare the salad on individual plates or bowls, rather than on a large serving platter. Of course, a nice wooden salad bowl would look great, making the perfect presentation if you’re serving a crowd.

I always think of my first experience with a Julia Child recipe when I make salad Nicoise. I was exhausted the next day at the French Club luncheon, but I felt a true sense of accomplishment.

A Julia Child recipe demands a lot of painstaking work, but the result is unfailingly worth the effort. Enjoy your salad Nicoise!

Recipes courtesy of “The Way to Cook” by Julia Child

Salad Nicoise Recipe | Foodal.com
Salad Nicoise
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Salad Nicoise Recipe | Foodal.com
Salad Nicoise
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Ingredients
  • 1 head of Boston Lettuce large, washed and dried
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans trimmed, blanched, refreshed in cold water, and dried
  • 2/3 to 1 cup salad dressing such as the Oil and Lemon Dressing (see recipe below)
  • 3 or 4 fine rip red tomatoes peeled, if you wish, and cored, quartered and seasoned before serving
  • 8 to 10 ounces oil-packed tuna drained and flaked
  • 1 quart French potato salad see recipe below
  • 8 hard-boiled eggs halved lengthwise
  • 1 can flat anchovy filets packed in oil opened and drained just before serving
  • 1/2 cup black Nicoise-type olives
  • 3 or 4 Tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley minced
Servings:
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Instructions
  1. Shortly before serving, line a handsome, large and wide salad bowl or a roomy platter with lettuce leaves, drizzle a little olive oil on them, and dust with a sprinkling of salt.
  2. Toss the beans in a mixing bowl with a little of the dressing, and correct seasoning.
  3. Drizzle a spoonful or two of the dressing over the tomatoes.
  4. Season the tuna lightly with a spoonful or two of dressing.
  5. Place the potatoes in the center of the bowl or platter; mound beans at strategic intervals, interspersing them with tomatoes and mounds of tuna.
  6. Ring the salad with the eggs and curl an anchovy filet on top of each.
  7. Spoon a little more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers, and parsley. Serve as soon as possible.
Recipe Notes

Salad Nicoise Recipe | Foodal.com

 

French Potato Salad | Foodal.com
French Potato Salad
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French Potato Salad | Foodal.com
French Potato Salad
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Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes all the same size and shape if possible
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt per quart of water
  • 2 Tablespoons shallots or scallions finely minced
  • white pepper freshly ground
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or potato-cooking water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons light olive oil optional
  • salt to taste
Servings:
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Instructions
  1. Fill a three-quart saucepan half full with cold water.
  2. Wash the potatoes.
  3. One at a time peel a potato, and if it's round and fat rather than long and thin, cut it in half
  4. lengthwise. Cut the potato into slices 1/4 inch thick, and drop the slices into the pan of water, to prevent discoloration while you prepare the rest.
  5. It is best to cook them within 1/2 hour to prevent the possibility of their turning grey.
  6. Drain out the water, then add clean cold water to cover, and the salt. Bring to the simmer, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender -- keep testing by eating a slice to be sure.
  7. Crunchily undercooked potatoes are dreadful, and overcooked potato slices will disintegrate.
  8. Drain out the cooking water (you may wish to use it for soup). At once cover the pan and set aside for 3 to 4 minutes (but no longer than 5), to allow the slices to firm up. Then uncover the potatoes and plan to season them while still warm.
  9. Turn the warm potatoes into a roomy bowl and toss gently with the shallots or scallions, stock or cooking water, vinegar, and parsley. Let steep 10 minutes or so, tossing gently several times. Then correct seasoning, toss with the optional oil, and the potatoes are ready for serving.
  10. The potatoes will keep a day or two covered and under refrigeration. If they are made with oil, let sit for 1/2 hour at room temperature before serving.
Recipe Notes

French Potato Salad Recipe for Salad Nicoise

 

Lemon and Oil Dessing | Foodal.com
Oil and Lemon Dressing
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Lemon and Oil Dessing | Foodal.com
Oil and Lemon Dressing
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Ingredients
  • 2 strips of fresh lemon peel 1 by 2 ½ inches each
  • 1/4 teaspoon tsp. salt plus more, if needed
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Dijon-type prepared mustard
  • 2 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fine fresh oil
  • freshly ground pepper
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. Mince the lemon peel very finely with the salt, scrape it into the mortar or bowl, and mash into a fine paste with the pestle or spoon.
  2. Beat in the mustard and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice; when thoroughly blended start beating in the oil by droplets to make a homogeneous sauce-easier when done with a small electric mixer.
  3. Beat in droplets more lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe Notes

Lemon and Oil Dessing | Foodal.com

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About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

11 thoughts on “Making Julia Child’s Salad Nicoise

  1. This is a pretty involved recipe. The dressing itself takes some work. I actually like this French potato salad more than one with mayonnaise. I like the lightness of it. You mentioned using roasted red pepper and I just love them and think they would add to the salad. I have also always loved Dijon mustard! I wish I could make it from scratch. I do really love cooking, and if the cookbook has more layered recipes like this one, it I appealing to me.

  2. It does appear to require a lot of effort but the dressing and potato salad can easily be made in advance, to allow you to throw everything else together at the last minute. The French potato salad looks like a fantastic dish in it’s own right and makes a refreshing change to the usual mayo-laden recipes.

  3. Oh wow. Complicated but well worth the effort. I’ve always been a fan of Julia Child’s recipes. They’re ultimately very ‘tried and tested’ and not in any way experimental or just pretty looking. Nicoise salad seems like a great meal to serve on intimate or special occasions.

  4. It’s kind of depressing that in a world where a lot of things are readily at our disposal the recipes of Julia Child sometimes get swept to the wayside. As mentioned above by others, this takes some effort. Though well worth the effort. I love to make things from scratch & I’m always happy to see recipes that focus on that. So thanks for this.

  5. This looks like a really well presented salad that is pleasing to the eye with the colors too. I think this would go really nice with a nice piece of fresh salmon or tuna fish, just to add a meaty side to the dish.

  6. I had to smile as I read this, because I’ve done the same, and not read the entire recipe ahead of time, and been caught unaware. I’m so glad you mentioned that, so I know to prepare much of this ahead of time, as you did, because that is how I function best. The individual parts sound delightful, and I love the addition of roasted red peppers to anything, and even by themselves, so I will include them in my final dish, also.

  7. I’ve not seen a salad like this. It probably is very filling. Very interesting combo. I am always making up some salad mixture but I usually just do it off of the top of my head.
    The potato salad looks amazing. I like it that there is no mayonnaise in that. A sea salt is what I would put in this one. The potato cooking water is a wild one. Julia is a funny one. It would retain all the nutrients I would imagine. You got to really wash them first before that. Some people actually don’t they like dirt on their food. Nutrients in dirt I guess. I just don’t like the taste on produce when there is even a little dirt. I’m thinking the french aren’t into it ether.

  8. Oh, I love Julia Child and this is what made me want to do this salad. I have to say that I’ve tried other Julia Child’s recipes before but they’re not that easy. You made me feel a little better about myself when you mentioned that her recipes are hard work for you too!

    Anyways, this salad doesn’t seem that complicated, also I like the idea of adding some asparagus and of using individual plates. Sometimes when I prepare salads they don’t turn out that well with all the mixing of the ingredients. Separating it in small plates will make the presentation much better.

  9. This is a great idea and has given me food for thought for my dinner tomorrow. I was just looking for another idea for preparing potatoes. I am going to prepare a similar potato salad with chicken. It will be a chicken/potato salad. Delicious for a summer dinner. It is terribly hot here and I know my family are going to enjoy this meal.

  10. This does look like a lot of effort is involved! That aside, I think the salad is heavenly. I can imagine myself enjoying it. Not to mention that the French potato salad sounds delicious on its own. It’s almost morning here in my country, and I can’t helped but think that I immensely wouldn’t mind having this even as early as breakfast. They’re just so delectable!

  11. I haven’t heard about this salad before, but it seems to be a great idea when it comes with an easy and healthy cold salad. I loved the idea won’t be afraid to put some protein on it, sometimes we’re too afraid to do that, mostly because of the presentation, especially with salads. The lemon-oil dressing looks so good and so easy to make! I really need to try that one.

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