Monday, June 21, 2010

Nicoise Irlandaise

Nicoise salad is really the taste of the summer - a classic southern French salad with eggs, beans and oily fish. There are no beans in this recipe - simply because they have not grown yet, and you do miss the crunch, but its something to build on for later in the year.

The classic Nicoise uses Tuna, but for an Irish twist one could always use poached (as in cooked, not hooked) Salmon or Mackerel fillets.

After a day stacking turf, the last thing I wanted to do was cook, so this is a real cupboard meal, using things most people would have at hand
It is such an easy meal to prepare, and I love the fact that all the veg came out of the Kitchen Garden, so its really a big deal for me - this is what starting a kitchen garden is all about.

NOTE: I serve this in a deep plate
Cold new potato's
1 clove Garlic
1 large Shallot
Baby Lettuce (3 small heads that were being thinned out)
1 tin Sardines - You can use any oily fish, Herring, Salmon, Mackerel etc for a more Irish flavour - Crab meat as well, but this will change the texture of the meal. I would not use a smoked fish.
1 Egg per person
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Butter with herbs, garlic, smoked Salmon, Gravlax or Anchovy - whatever is at hand.
Squeeze of Lemon or Lime

If you have them, french beans lightly steamed or boiled, strained and allowed go cold - a small knob of butter while they are cooling and a whizz round the pot to coat does no harm.

Green Salad (plate base or edge)
Wash and dry salad leaves
1/3rd Balsamic Vinegar and 2/3 Olive oil
Pinch of salt and Pepper
1/2 clove garlic - I finely grate this in
spoon whole grain mustard - I tend to use a 50/50 blend of Lakeshore wholegrain mustard with Guinness and the old reliable Colmans English
Shake well and pour over green leaves, toss the salad.

Potato Salad (plate centre)
Cold potato's
Green part of Shallot to taste and a sprig Parsley finely chopped
Enough Mayonnaise to coat potato's
Pinch of Cayenne (adds spiciness) I really reccommend this
Put in a bowl and mix

If you have time, leave to chill in fridge, and it will keep for about 3 days. The longer it sits with the Cayenne, the spicier - great contrast with the fish and eggs

Egg, quartered, plated up with sardines - lightly sprinkled with a little paprika

Sardines: I drain them, give them a squeeze of Lime and garnish with the chopped bulb of the Shallot, but you have a range of suitable Irish fish like herring, mackerel, salmon, trout etc - as long as its oily, poached and cold.

Some toast fingers, or brown soda bread for a more Irish flavor - served with an egg cup or ramekin of butter flavored as you like, I just did a herb butter.

This is a really nice, easy to make meal - perfect for lunch with a cup of tea or these late summer evenings with a chilled Rose wine, or white of your choice. I went with a simple Chianti.
I did miss the beans, but the fresh Shallot gave a nice, tangy sweet bite to the whole meal.

Later in the year I'll do a more 'Irish' version with poached Salmon or trout and brown soda bread - but it is such a flexible recipe - fresh veg, fish, eggs - voila - Serve and enjoy - et Bon Appettit

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