Column and photos by Ali Carter, Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary
I’m not a fan of rules.
Well, wait, I should clarify that. I am not a fan of rules that I consider nonsense. And, cooking rules are ones that I tend to break often and with abandon.
Take the Niçoise salad for instance. Originating from the South of France, a “true” Niçoise salad typically requires tomatoes, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, olives (Niçoise olives) and basil.
I have found, however, that not everyone adheres to those ingredients and some people feel quite passionately about their version of this salad being the correct one.
The changing rules, and differing opinions, can make things a bit tricky when you attempt to narrow down what exactly is allowed in a Niçoise salad.
I say we just toss any rules right out the window.
Our version of this salad is ever changing, but since my own rules make sense to me, you will typically find a few consistencies each time I serve you, my dear guest, this colorful dish.
My version includes small boiled potatoes, lots of green veggies, olives and some type of herbal vinaigrette, and is usually topped with a boiled egg or two.
Sometimes we whip up a colorful Niçoise salad using leftovers from the week (this horrifies my French friend—sorry, Aleesia), and other times, it is a well thought out process.
The only other requirement I have of my salad is that it is never tossed, but rather each individual ingredient is carefully placed on a pretty platter like a work of art.
Not only is this a beautiful way to present the salad, but it also allows each person the ability to serve themselves what they’d like from the salad and avoid any ingredient that they may have an aversion to.
Enjoy this month’s recipe, let loose and ignore the rules (well, most of them), find inspiration here and create your own work of edible art!
Oh, and if you really want to impress your guests, I’ll share a little tip I learned a few years ago thanks to Google: The proper way to pronounce Niçoise is “nee-SWAHZ” (translates to “in the style of the French city of Nice”).