In his online summer series Joseph Beaumont revisits some of his favourite recipes and provides hints and tips plus suggestions for the odd tipple to make them even more enjoyable.
There is a simple reason why traditional recipes endure, and that is flavour. In the case of today's recipe - my top summer meal - the flavour line-up is classic Mediterranean, with the bonus of deliciously contrasting textures.
Ironically, every time I eat it I cannot help recalling a certain pavement cafe in Nice, where my enjoyment of this famous salad - in its home town, no less - was spoiled by traffic fumes. There's a moral there somewhere.
"The ingredients depend upon the season and what is available," Elizabeth David says in French Provincial Cooking. "But hard-boiled eggs, anchovy fillets, black olives and tomatoes ... are pretty well constant elements in what should be a rough country salad, rather than a fussy chef's concoction."
My version often varies, but I always opt for cos lettuce, because of its crunch, rather than a soft variety such as mignonette. Some cooks mix the egg quarters with the other ingredients; I like to pop them, intact, on top.
This quantity serves 2 as a meal in itself, or 4 as a first course.
*Scatter with fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, chervil, tarragon or basil.
*If you love tarragon, use tarragon vinegar in the dressing.
*Add a clove of crushed garlic to the dressing for an extra kick.
*Try some quartered artichoke hearts and chopped red capsicum.
With its many flavours, Salade Niçoise is a challenge to pair with wine. The best choice by far is a full-bodied rosé. If you're feeling daring, try a lightly chilled pinot noir.
2 large eggs
3-4 cos lettuce leaves
200g beans, freshly boiled
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 x 200g can tuna in olive oil
4 potatoes, boiled and cut into chunks
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12-16 small black olives
8 anchovy fillets, split lengthwise
*Boil eggs for 5 minutes, then run under cold water to stop the cooking.
*Peel and cut into quarters (the yolks should still be moist).
*Cover a platter with washed and dried lettuce leaves.
*Gently mix the beans, tomatoes, drained tuna and potatoes, and tumble on to the lettuce leaves.
*Place the egg quarters here and there on the mix.
*Whisk oil and vinegar with salt and pepper and drizzle over platter.
*Scatter olives and anchovies over and serve immediately.
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