Friday, May 10, 2013

Salade Niçoise - Salad Nicoise. The Most Famous of all French Salads is Named after the City of Nice, on the Cote d’Azur, Provence, France.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman
Updated September 2019
Salade Niçoise
This recipes permits both tuna and anchovies.

The Classic Salade Niçoise
The classic Salad Niçoise was an hors d’œuvre, an appetizer served before the first course, the French entrée.  The tradition of serving Salad Niçoise as an hors d’œuvre is now more honored in the breach than in the observance. Today, a Salade Niçoise will likely be a French entrée or the main dish when it its part of a light lunch.
Ordering Salade Niçoise

With few exceptions, most chefs from Nice agree that the recipe will include canned tuna or anchovies, but not both. Then are added tomatoes, the black Niçoise AOC olives, fava beans, cooked baby artichokes, sweet peppers, herbs, especially basil, and a vinaigrette dressing with the oil from Nice’s own AOP olive oil the, Huile d'Olive de Nice and red wine vinegar.
Among the variations that are accepted but  considered later additions are boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, spring onions, and boiled or steamed haricots verts France’s favorite fresh bean that we call the green bean or snap bean.
Haricot vert, the essential green bean in a Salade Niçoise
Lettuce is often seen in a Salades Nicoise today though it is generally agreed that it is a recent addition, and it is still rare for a chef with Nice's culinary history on his or her mind to include lettuce.
One word of advice, when in Nice do not discuss with the locals the exact recipe as even the local gourmands disagree. You might end up as I did with my head in my hands along with wine and opinions coming from all sides even though we had finished dinner three hours before.  
Salade Niçoise first appeared on French menus in the latter part of the 19th century; less than 30 years after Nice lost its Italian rulers and became part of France. The name of the dish’s original creator is lost, probably during the Franco-Prussian war that ended in France becoming a Republic and Emperor Napoléon III being exiled to England where he later died and is buried.
The most authentic Salade Nicoise recipes that I have seen are the two reported by the famous cookbook author Elizabeth David (1913 – 1992).  Her book French Provincial Cooking was published in 1960; however, I read the Penguin Books Edition published posthumously in 1999 with a forward by Julia Child.

The recipes Elizabeth David highlights are from Henri Heyraud and Escoffier.

Henri Heraud’s recipe was from his book La Cuisine a Nice, the cuisine of Nice. Henri Heyraud, was a chef, teacher and historian of the cuisine served in France in the early 20th century,
In the footsteps of Escoffier

Henri Heraud’s recipe for Salade Niçoise:

Canned tuna in oil, peeled tomatoes and diced anchovy fillets, all seasoned with tarragon, chervil, and chopped chives and prepared with or without mustard.
This recipe shows that the accepted tradition where you can use tuna or anchovies, but not both was not there in the early years. Heraud uses both tuna and anchovies, and the only vegetables are tomatoes. The recipe also offers no vinaigrette dressing and the oil used is that that comes from the canned tuna. That would be a very rare offering today, but Herault published his recipe in 1922.
Escoffier’s recipe for Salade Niçoise:

Young artichoke hearts, black nice olives, uncooked sweet peppers, tomatoes and anchovy fillets all served with a vinaigrette dressing made of olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and the most important of French herb groups Les Fine Herbes.
Canned anchovies.
Escoffier, a Provencal favorite son, surprisingly does not use the Provencal herb group the Herbs de Provence, instead, he chooses Les Fine Herbes.  Escoffier. uses anchovy fillets, and no option of tuna is offered.
Nice and the Cote-d’Azur.
The Cote-d’Azur, the azure or blue coast was the name given to Nice and its coastal area in 1887 by the French writer and poet Stephen Liégeard (1830 -1925).  At that time the South of France was being discovered by wealthy British tourists who came from the rainy UK to the unclouded blue sky of coastal Provence.
The Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

Dining in Nice with its French, Provençal and Italian influences makes the visitor aware of the many other dishes that originated here including Ratatouille, Pissaladiere, and Socca


Bryan G Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2013, 2018, 2019

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