I am blessed to have great memories of a childhood filled with gourmet meals.
One of the places my mom would take me for special lunches was Cafe LauTrec in La Jolla, California (in operation from 1973-2007). The walls were covered with giant, bright paintings by Toulouse LauTrec and we would always order the Salade Nicoise.
I share it with you today, very similar to the version they served: with marinated dilled onions, blanched green beans, vine-ripened tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and fresh tarragon, the perfect French herb.
I have used home-cured olives, sardines in place of tuna and made a very special Creamy Tarragon-Hemp Salad Dressing.
I am actually a fan of all seafood: tuna, sardines, salmon. Later this month I’ll be posting an article on my views about seafood, why I believe it to be a safe and recommended protein source. You can either take my word for it and make this salad right away, or wait a bit and pin this baby for later.
In the meantime, I chose sardines because they are high in calcium, having all their little bones canned with them. Brisling sardines are baby sardines. Their texture and overall appeal are superior to full size sardines. Anchovies work great too, and fresh canned anchovies are small and mild like sardines, not salty; so they make a nice alternative. Vacuum packed albacore tuna is another good choice, although it won’t have the same calcium benefits as fish packed with their bones. More nutrients are preserved with this method of packaging, including fragile omega-3’s. There are a few companies now processing their tuna in this way. I also like canned salmon, with the skin and bones included.
If you’re not a fan of canned fish or have it in your budget to go hardcore gourmet, fresh salmon, baked or sauteed, or seared ahi tuna make a beautiful Salade Nicoise. You won’t get the calcium benefits of the little bones. But the feast will be more guest-worthy.
This salad also uses pastured eggs, full of good cholesterol and omega-3’s. Since green beans and tomatoes are not yet in season, and asparagus soon will be, consider making the salad seasonally with slight variations based on what’s growing locally.
The lettuce used in Salade Nicoise goes by three names: Boston, Butter or Bibb. It’s the loveliest lettuce, in my opinion, truly deserving of a name like, Butter.
Lastly, all Salades Nicoise feature potato salad, dressed simply in olive oil and sea salt, sometimes with shallots and fresh herbs. This is a great option and offers resistant starch for those who can have potatoes. If your diet is starch-free, I have made my recipe (GAPS-friendly) with three roasted root vegetables that definitely have the same appeal and a similar flavor profile to roasted potato salad. They add a bit of glory to the salad, so delicious: rutabaga, black radish and celery root.