This Summer Salad is French, Delish & Super Easy!

This Summer Salad is French, Delish & Super Easy!

Is it summer yet? With Memorial Day right around the corner, and a heat wave oppressing the south, it sure does feel like it. My very own version of a favorite French salad is easily put together, and works with just about any fresh veggies and tuna/salmon you have on hand. It’s perfect for when you have graduation ceremonies, recitals and tee-ball playoff games to attend, yet need a refreshing entrée salad to whip up and fortify you before going into Mom mode.

This simple yet sophisticated salad is made up of tomatoes, olives, anchovies (my favorite) and hard boiled eggs. In this particular version of Nicoise, I left off the olives, and to my sweet surprise it still tasted like a classic Nicoise. The great thing about this quintessential summer salad is not needing everything you think you do to make it great – everything works! Let your creative license run wild!

On many American menus, you can find a version of a Nicoise salad that includes tuna, crisp-tender haricot verts and par-cooked potatoes.

Mine, of course gives a nod to the original French dish, and whole lotta latitude with this creative adaption. Let me know how you tweaked yours, and I just might show up for dinner!

Jorj’s Nicoise Salad
Serves 4
30 minute cuisine

For the salmon:

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

For the vinaigrette

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium shallot, chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Juice of a lemon, about two tablespoons

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

For the baby potatoes:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Sea salt and pepper to taste

For the Salad:

1 (2–pound) whole salmon fillet

1 pound seared tuna

1 (7-ounce) tin flat fillets of anchovies, packed in oil

¾ pound green beans, trimmed

1 pound Baby potatoes, boiled and peeled

Juice of a lemon, about two tablespoons

½ pound fresh Brussels sprouts, about 12, trimmed, about 2 cups

5 large eggs, hard-cooked and peeled

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

 

Boil the baby potatoes until the tines of a fork can penetrate easily, about 10 minutes. Toss the potatoes with olive oil, fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Cool these to room temperature. Blanch the green beans and Brussels sprouts in boiling water, throwing them into an ice-water bath to cool down; then toss in the lemon juice.

Make a salmon rub from brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, onion and garlic powders. Smush the powders onto a whole filet of salmon, drizzled with olive oil and roasted in a 375°oven until still very moist on the inside, about 20 minutes.

Add the seared tuna, anchovies, hardboiled eggs and grape tomatoes.

Make a vinaigrette from chopped shallot, mustard, lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You can store the dressing in any container that you like, and add to the salad per your own taste. I like to drizzle my salad with vinaigrette right before I eat it.

Lay everything onto a platter and chill for at least an hour (and as long as all day).

 

SUNDAY BEST GRILLING ADVICE: You Want Fries with That?

SUNDAY BEST GRILLING ADVICE: You Want Fries with That?

Summer BBQs, the smell of wood smoke, and perfect pool weather are part of what makes this time of year so great – at least for those of us who live in the South and can enjoy picnics before Memorial Day. Before we load up the cooler, and invite our good friends to the backyard, we should nail down a few BBQ techniques from the experts. My friends at Smoked BBQ Source asked me to feature their advice on my blog, so I hope you’ll click on their wonderfully handy wood smoking guide. In it, BBQ source shares the two main ways you can use wood when you barbecue, what kind of smoker to use, and how to bring out coveted aromas and flavors in your meat. With all their talk of apple, cherry, hickory, mesquite or pecan woods, and videos of how to man a superior grill, my mouth was watering!

If you’re gonna have a BBQ, you gotta have French fries, and you might as well have the best! The ketchup in this recipe is full of robust flavors, and there’s enough for dipping the last morsel of fry. Have fun out there!

The Real Deal Fries and Home Made Ketchup
MAKES 4 SERVINGS AND 2 CUPS KETCHUP

Ketchup
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon hot ground mustard
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for fries
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Put the tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cloves and allspice into a small pan over low heat. Pour in ¼ cup water. Whisk until smooth. Cook until the sugar melts and the ketchup is warmed through. Set aside and let the flavors blend at room temperature for 1 hour or in the refrigerator overnight.
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Fries
2 large Idaho potatoes, scrubbed
Canola oil for frying

Peel the potatoes. Cut each potato lengthwise into 4 long slices. Cut each slice into 4 strips. Place the strips into a bowl of cold water for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Drain the potatoes through a colander and slide onto a paper towels. Use more towels to blot the potatoes dry. The drier the potatoes, the more they will crisp.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Pour enough oil to come 1-inch up the side of the skillet. Use a candy thermometer to gauge the oil to 325° Place the fries into the oil and cook for 5 minutes. This step cooks the inside of the potatoes. Transfer the fries to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. These pre-cooked fries will keep in the fridge for several hours until you are ready to serve.

Raise the temperature of the oil to 375°. Place the partially cooked fries in the oil. Cook until golden, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve with ketchup.

Behold, the Picnic Trio, A.K.A., All You Need to Eat This Summer

Behold, the Picnic Trio, A.K.A., All You Need to Eat This Summer

From my book: SUNDAY BEST DISHES

For those of us who live on the East coast, summer has arrived! I love the heady smell of magnolias and gardenias when I’m out for a walk. Every morning in my kitchen is a new day for pulling farmers market finds out of the crisper, and whipping something up that goes straight back into the fridge, so I can have it chilled later on. This particular morning – Friday the 13th – I found it hard not to nibble on the freshly made trio, just as soon as the potatoes cooled down enough to spear with my mayo stained fork!

With Memorial Day here at the end of this month, I’m revisiting my best Sunday Best Dishes for outdoor BBQs and potlucks. I had forgotten how much fantastic food each of these recipes yield. I almost didn’t make one (of the 3) because I was running out of room in my refrigerator! Not to worry, though. I simply ate the watermelon and freed up the space. God, I love summer!

Here are my foolproof recipes, sure to make your next al fresco dining experience extra sunny and bright – you can pack these up in paper cartons, like these pictured above (available just about anywhere, including the dollar store), or simply serve it in your favorite bowl – the more colorful, the better!

Purple Potato Salad

I have a confession to make. When I made this favorite summer salad this week, I didn’t have purple potatoes. I was also onion deprived, and forced to use a white one. On top of THAT, I had yellow mustard and no Dijon. But guess what? The salad was still delicious, and is already gone…gobbled up.

2 pounds baby purple potatoes

1 pound baby red potatoes

2 large celery stalks, trimmed and diced, about ½ cup

¼ red onion, diced, about ⅓ cup

4 large radishes, trimmed and diced, about ⅓ cup

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 cup good quality mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

            Bring a pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and cool slightly. Cut the potatoes into ½-inch pieces and place into a bowl. Add the celery, onion, radishes and dill. Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into the bowl and toss to coat all of the veggies. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

 

Toasted Corn and Poblano Slaw

OMG – nothing on Earth need stop you from making this. This recipe produces enough salad to fill a truck bed, and is so full of complex tangy, zesty, spicy flavor, it’s a go to every summer. No worries if you don’t have a food processor. You can safely shred the veggies with your hands, or Ninja knife skills. It’s fine to substitute frozen corn kernels for fresh off the ear, too.

½ head red cabbage

½ head Nappa cabbage

2 large carrots

1 large poblano pepper, seeded, and deveined

¼ red onion, peeled

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 ears of corn

1 cup good quality mayonnaise

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sour cream

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

 

Use a food processor to shred the cabbages, pepper and red onion. Place all of the vegetables into a large bowl. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cut the kernels from the corn and place into the pan. Cook until the kernels are just golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the corn into the bowl with the veggies. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, sour cream, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables. Toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

 

Pasta Primavera Salad

This Sunday Best Dish is unbelievably healthy, and works just as well with red wine vinegar if that’s all you’ve got. I had to know if this was true, so I tested it both ways!

1 pound baby pasta shells

2 pounds fresh broccoli florets, about 4 cups

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about 1 cup

Juice of 1 large lemon, about ¼ cup

¼ cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup olive oil

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pour the pasta into a large bowl. Steam the broccoli florets until crisp-tender. Roughly chop and add to the bowl.  Chop the sun-dried tomatoes and add to the bowl. Pour the cheese into the bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, white wine vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Happy Memorial Day, friends! Here’s to you and the awesome picnics on your horizon

Okay, all – time to pack it in, and I mean literally. I’m gearing up to put this holy trinity of summer salads into cartons, and head for the beach. Let me know why you’re a big dill this holiday weekend…sorry, always love a good pun!