Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

4.2.05

How to build your salad nicoise.

Another everything day. Rain, sunshine, thunder ...

I just ignored it and went to the fish market.

Bought a piece of pesce spada - swordfish - as big as a plate.

What to do with it?

Another all-time favourite - salad nicoise. I have a special dish about two feet in diameter, a large flattish bowl on which I construct my salades nicoises.

It's like playing with building blocks. I boil up a dozen baby potatoes or several larger ones in two inch pieces. These go around the perimeter of the dish. They're the foundation stones.

If you use lettuce, this goes in the middle. I used some rocket, because it's going wild in the vegetable patch. Tomatoes - either halved cherry ones or regular ones sliced into segments on top of the lettuce. (I never serve cherry tomatoes whole - it is impossible to bite into a cherry tomato without squirting the juice at your dining partner. They are nature's 'trick' fruit.)

Boil a dozen green beans and refresh. Hardboil three eggs. Segment each egg into four 'boats'. Arrange these around the dish along with the green beans, radially. It looks nice. Sprinkle chopped spring onions over that. Next come the olives. I bought some mixed green and black ones marinated in mild chili. Place them over the top. Your construction is building nicely.

Vinaigrette. Pour it on. Anchovies - nice fat ones, one each across the eggs.

Now for the fish. Of course, tuna is the original but sometimes I use swordfish. I sear it well on both sides but not overcooked. Slightly translucent in the middle.

The plate-size seared fish goes on top, triumphant. This time, I smeared it with home-made pesto (the basil is going wild) for a change. The 'salad' is about two feet tall by now (OK, exaggerating!).

Finally, rain down some capers over the dish.

Guests' jaws drop when you serve this. A salad that needs carving, like a roast. 'A largish segment of swordfish for you?'

All you need is some nice fresh white bread and some good wine. Conversation will follow.

About the weather, of course.

*

PS: Happy birthday to my brother in Alice Springs.



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