While flipping through TV channels on a lazy Sunday afternoon I came across an old episode of the classic TV series, “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home” The series was tapped in Julia’s kitchen in Cambridge and while Julia was clearly passed her prime the interplay between the two food stars is sincere and straightforward (Jacques wants to do things the classic way and Julia calls for butter instead of oil or onion instead of scallion, for example).
A recent episode focused on salads and, specifically, Julia Childs and Jacque Pepin made a terrific Tuna Nicoise Salad; featuring fresh grilled tuna or tuna packed in olive oil, boiled potatoes, string beans, boiled eggs, tomatoes, Boston lettuce, capers, and anchovy. The salad looked so good I decided to have a go at making the dish for a late lunch this weekend. And while I didn’t have fresh Tuna laying around the house I always keep 3-4 cans of tuna packed in olive oil in our pantry (here’s my list of Italian products to keep in your pantry at all times) so one ingredient was present! Our fridge also included some green beans, fresh farm eggs, olives, a red onion, and, yes, some chick pea soup! The chick pea soup was used to make a rustic hummus with lots of lemon juice, some tahini paste, and plenty of salt and pepper (I used a morter and pestle as opposed to the Cuisinart, which I didn’t want to clean). Here’s my classic hummus recipe. The green beans were quickly steamed and then moved to a bowl of ice water to preserve the color and stop the cooking process. Thereafter, I tossed the beans with a simple lemon juice/Dijon vinaigrette (see my recipe here). The hard boiled eggs were made via the Bittman way, including placing the eggs in a pot with water and letting them come to a boil (and thereafter turning off the gas and letting the eggs sit for 9 minutes). Finally, I included some green olives flavored with fennel.
We enjoyed the salad with a fresh baguette and a bottle of $9.99 Torre Dei Gesuiti from Puglia (basically Italian Zinfandel) purchased at Total Wine (a chain wine shop with some decent inventory). There’s no proper way to assemble the salad, just make sure all items are seasoned well (kosher salt, black pepper, and dried oregano) .