Niçoise Salad: The Garbage Dump of Salads

And we’re back! How was everyone’s week? New York was a blast, of COURSE. The Big Apple! (I made sure to call it the Big Apple all the time out there, so everyone knew I was a local and therefore knew the city’s nickname.) Here is where you can read some unconnected things I saw and experienced out there. EXCITING. Anyway, let’s get back to this project because we have literally eight billion recipes to cook and we’re running out of time! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?

Last night was Monday Night Football, so you know what goes well with that: Niçoise Salad! Actually, I just wanted to do something easy to get back into it, as well as knocking out two recipes in one, since Gwyneth so helpfully separates the salad from its Chive Vinaigrette. But things quickly backfired, because this was NOT EASY IN THE SLIGHTEST. And on top of that, it just tasted horrible! I’m not sure I’m ready to relive this yet, but let’s get to it.

I started by steaming red potatoes and green beans, which is always something I love to do. I don’t know why, but steaming vegetables is so fun! What a hilarious way to cook things! They just kind of hang out in a little basket, suspended over some water, in their own vegetable sauna. While the vegetables sweat away, I heated up a grill pan on another burner and rubbed my beautifully pink tuna steak with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I slapped it on the grill pan and let it cook away, taking some time to pour myself some wine because of course.

Veggie sauna!

YES. SO BEAUTIFUL.

But! No time to relax, because I quickly realized I had forgotten to prepare red and yellow roasted bell peppers! I know how long these take, so I quickly fired up the two open burners on my stove and got the peppers roasting. While the room filled up with the always-welcome smell of roasting bell peppers, I had the sudden realization that I was using four burners on the stove to make a salad. A SALAD. FOUR BURNERS. This is just absurd.

Gradually, I moved things from the stove to the countertop — the grilled tuna steak was set aside to cool, as were the steamed veggies, and the roasted peppers were set in a metal bowl with plastic wrap on top, to cool and soften. But we’re STILL NOT DONE, because I forgot to hard-boil some eggs. So I got three eggs a-boiling, which, if you’re keeping track, means this salad took a grand total of five burners on the stove to make.

Can’t I just eat this and say it’s good enough?

While everything cooled, I prepared the Chive Vinaigrette, which was a little bit of Dijon mustard, an equal amount of real Vermont maple syrup (???? In salad dressing???), white wine vinegar, olive oil, and diced chives whisked together. Another easy recipe in the books! If I hadn’t just spent the past hour and a half making a ridiculous salad, I would have felt much better about this god-awful project.

Finally, after days of cooking, I could plate. I tore up some butter lettuce and topped it with the roasted peppers, grape tomatoes, Niçoise olives, and green beans. Around the plate, I placed the red potatoes and hard-boiled eggs, while layering the salad with the sliced tuna steak and anchovy fillets, topping it all with the vinaigrette. YIKES, THAT’S A LOT OF STUFF ON ONE PLATE.

Is “Niçoise” French for “enormous pile of bullshit?”

I basically had to climb into a helicopter to capture the size of this monstrosity.

So, how did it hold up? I HATED IT. Oh, god, it was horrible. Now, I should point out that I’m not really a huge fan of olives or anchovies, so there are two strikes right off the bat. But the main problem I have with this dish is that it’s so busy. What the hell are you supposed to eat? It’s impossible to have a single bite that includes all the components of the salad, so you’re forced to try to pair things that you think may go well together: Should I eat an anchovy with an egg? Or is that disgusting? Do potatoes go well with tuna steak? It was impossible to actually enjoy this salad, because I was constantly stressed, thinking, “Am I pairing everything correctly?” and then second-guessing myself when each bite proved to be horrible.

This was my first-ever taste of Niçoise salad, and I’m worried Gwyneth has ruined it for me forever. And you know what the worst part is? She has a SECOND recipe for Niçoise salad in the book. Kill me.

So glad to be back!

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10 Comments

Filed under Salads

10 responses to “Niçoise Salad: The Garbage Dump of Salads

  1. Clair

    I’m glad you’re back too!

  2. Avonasea

    I don’t want you to forever give up on the Nicoise! It is one of those things that is either Awesome or Awfully Awful, there is no middle ground. Somehow you have to get the right Quantities of the many ingredients together; there is a point beyond which, as you said, the Nicoise becomes a garbage dump, but somewhere just before then there is a happy place. The best Nicoise I had was, of course, in France- in Corsica, to be precise. And the worst was here in Toronto, of course, where vegetables always taste like a** and salad is almost invariably a pile of bullsh*t.

  3. Amanda

    It looks like Gwyneth took stock of the leftovers in her fridge, dumped them on a plate, and said, “Meh. I’ll just say it’s a Nicoise and call it a day.” I am also befuddled by the second appearance of maple syrup in a random recipe…

  4. I feel like Gwynnie is doing you a huge disservice by not stressing the importance of mis en place. These recipes must be much easier with servants laying out the correct ingredients and preheating pans for you.

  5. Wow, that salad sounds busier than you’ve been.
    Too many steps for a friggin salad. Especially one that doesn’t taste that good.
    Gwyneth can be a bitch sometimes, huh.

  6. JT

    Have you watched “Up All Night”? There’s a total Gwenyth-cooking reference in the 3rd episode I think you would related to: http://www.hulu.com/watch/280293/up-all-night-working-late-and-working-it#s-p1-so-i0
    Best meal I ever had in France was a Nicoise salad in the town of Villefranche Sur Mer. I ate it whilst overlooking a cobblestone street on the edge of the Mediterranean after walking five miles from a farmers’ market in Nice. (That was my best Gwen-i-fied version of a very true story.)

  7. Not Your Sister Nikki

    <aybe you could have cut down the steps by boiling the potatoes, then the green beans, then the eggs after, all with the same pot. Regardless, don't think I will be making this one. I am doing the Indian Spiced Tuna Steaks tonight, but skipping the sides (got em at TJs). For this recipe, I would cook the chutney earlier in the day – takes 45 mins and I think you have to let it cool. I wasn't about to jump thru GPs hoops on this one and her ratia looks boring.

  8. Not Your Sister Nikki

    ps you should look for squash blossoms stat – I am pretty sure they are already out of season…

  9. Kimber

    Ugh. I’m pregnant and that picture set off my morning sickness right into the trash can.

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