by The Australian Women’s Weekly
ACP Publishing, Sydney, 2009
Cooking on page 32
When I was growing up my home-economist/nutritionist mother made a salad as part of dinner for every night of the week. Salad was the first course and I assume she was trying to fill us up before the main course was offered. I’m still a sucker for salads and have one almost every day.
This book is a shrine to salads—how to choose and store ingredients, how to match ingredients, how to dress the goods, how to choose the right oils and vinegars, how to treat the herbs, and more about lettuces.
Page 32 has a French-style salad I first met in the mid-1970s when I lived in Egypt. Back then Café Groppi in Cairo was the place to be seen. And their salade niçoise was one of the most popular items on the menu.
When we were in Egypt in 2009, Poor John and I stopped at Groppi’s. It’s a shadow of its former self, with a sparsely furnished and rundown interior, and limited menu. I failed to notice if this salad was still on it.
But if you follow the link you’ll see the Groppi family, which started the original in 1909 but no longer owns it, still dreams to reclaim the family glory and open a new café.
200g baby green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 medium tomatoes (600g), cut into wedges
4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
425g can tuna in springwater, drained, flaked
½ cup (80g) drained caperberries, rinsed
½ cup (60g) seeded small black olives
¼ cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
440g can drained whole new potatoes, rinsed, halved
Boil, steam or microwave beans until tender; drain. Rinse under cold water; drain.
Whisk oil, juice and vinegar in large bowl; add beans and remaining ingredients, mix gently.
How it played out
Other than making just a half a batch, I followed the full list of ingredients.
I did, however, arrange the salad on a small platter and drizzle over some dressing, and took a photo of that. Then I tossed the mixture gently in a bowl, and took a picture of that. It looked weird and messy so no need to include that view here.
I can no longer remember how Groppi’s salade niçoise tasted, but I remember I ordered it regularly. I also can’t remember if their version included caperberries, but they are a wonderful addition. Love the saltiness and tang.
In fact, I thoroughly loved this recipe and will make it often without change. Except I won’t feel the need to buy a tin of baby potatoes. I’ll boil some fresh baby potatoes at home.