Monday, 18 January 2010

Nicoise Salad

Pronounced "nee-swah"

I have this thing for tuna salads i've discovered. But i think it's more than the tuna in the salad that gets to me, it's actually the capers and kalamata olives.

I'm a huge fan of really delicate salads that have something with a bite that is surprising. This salad is classic of that. Here's a simple recipe of my rendition of this salad. Unfortunately I didn't make the dressing for this salad because honestly, i don't use one the capers and olives are salty enough for me. I also eat this salad for lunch, so portions are ultimately up to you.

2 cups of mixed salad greens
1 can of white albacore tuna (although i admit that the pouched tuna tastes better)
1/4 cup of white button mushrooms sliced
1/4 cup of blanched greenbeans (instructions below)
1/2 of a small shallot sliced very very thinly
1 tbsp of capers
as many kalamata olives as you please.
1 hard boiled egg, sliced.

Take all the ingredients and mix in a bowl. easy enough. EAT!

blanching is a skill even i'm trying to perfect. It's all about timing for this. As far as the green beans go, I first cleaned and cut the ends before placing them in boiling water. I only set them in boiling water for 1.5 mins before quickly transferring them to a bowl of ice water. Have all this set up before you start boiling the vegetables. then for the salad, i took the green beans out of the water, pat them dry and then sliced them into thirds.

Mushroom Spinach Israeli Couscous

Please excuse the quality of the photo as it has been taken from my blackberry. How rustic it looks yeah?

Story behind why I'm eating Israeli couscous first!
I went to Trader Joe's last week in order to buy a salad for lunch and came across this amazing TJ's original country chicken cob salad or other.. something like that. It had these great little Israeli couscous pearls and i was instantly hooked! The texture and the size were much more pleasurable to eat than smaller grainier couscous which can get too dry for me sometimes. So i picked up a box and it sat in my cupboard for a week. All i could think about was how i was going to prepare this couscous alone without it being only a side for a salad. All thanks to i found this great recipe that was all in Australian metric measurements so I'll give you my own take and how nicely it turned out. This recipe is also VERY much like a mushroom risotto, so you can definitely try it with Arborio rice.

1 tbsp Olive Oil
3 slices English cut bacon (thicker and no smoke flavor) chopped
1 cup of sliced button mushrooms
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup of Israeli (pearl) couscous
1 1/2 cup of chicken stock
handful of fresh spinach
fresh grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the chopped bacon in olive oil over low heat in a medium sized saucepan. As the bottom of the pan starts to brown, move the bacon to the side of the pan and brown the mushrooms. Once the mushroom has finished browning add the garlic and the couscous and cook over medium heat until couscous soaks up all the excess oil. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the pot to a boil. Once boiling, bring to a simmer and cover with a lid for 10 mins. Afterwards, put the fresh spinach inside the couscous and stir until it wilts. Serve immediately with some freshly grated Parmesan or cover and refrigerate.