Cookie Niçoise

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It’s dawned on me that we’ve not talked about anything tasty in quite sometime. Not since we tried to decide if I was a vanilla connoisseur or, hummmm, a lush. And by the way, those “vanilla to be” bottles are “fermenting” nicely thank you very much (see post Vanilla Extract or is cookie a lush)—You know you’ll want some when I make that decadent chocolate torte with my rum vanilla. But until the time that the fermentation period is complete, we must fill the void.

The other day I was privileged having a dear dear friend over for lunch. I am blessed with a wonderful close circle of good and dear friends. This particular friend means a great deal to me. She is probably the best example I know of what it means to truly “live one’s Faith.” Her’s is an honest Faith—a “suck it up and go on ’til you can go no more Faith.” She has exemplified what unconditional Love is all about and she has believed in me when I had lost all belief in myself—never allowing me to slip out of not only her grasp, but that of our Heavenly Father’s grasp. Loving me when I was loathing me.

We have known one another for many many years. And even as our paths have diverged over the years, weaving us in and out of constant contact, she is still there…always. I count it a blessing for moments, when our schedules and lives are such, that we can actually spend some real time together as I am constantly learning from her. Her Christian Faith is raw and I am fortunate to have her as a source of strength and knowledge in my life.

So on such an occasion, I always want to have something wonderful as the meal. I believe that taste and appearance are equally most important when it comes to food. I also believe strongly in the “feast and fellowship” school of thought. Communing together over good food and drink can be so cathartic to one’s very being.

This day should be no different. The weather has certainly warmed up so something light yet fulfilling–tasty and satisfying, without being overtly filling as my friend had to return to work following our little lunch. It dawned on me—one of my all time favorite meals—a salad niçoise. That most delightful amalgamation of Mediterranean taste sensations—from Provence to the Isle of Capri—everyone seems to have their own special take on this salad.

Anchovies or no anchovies, egg or no egg, tuna or shrimp, to or not to add crumbled cheese….it is a canvas just waiting for an artist to throw what he or she will at it with the end results always the same—a bite of sun and sea in one’s mouth…..

Here is how I made mine this particular day—it is up to you to mix it up for your own tastes—or for what happens to be available in the ol cupboard at the time:

One fresh Tuna steak–grilled or pan sautéed med rare (sorry but that is how fresh tuna should be prepared) When there was not tuna I opted for shrimp.

a bunch of mixed lettuce—I used a baby spring mix from my yard and some baby romaine

beets—I actually roasted my own golden beets and marinated them with white balsamic vinegar or you can choose jarred pickled beets.

sliced tomatoes or whole baby grape tomatoes

corn, cut fresh from the cob

blanched french green beans (chill after blanching)

boiled and sliced baby new potatoes tossed lightly, while still warm, with part of the vinaigrette

Kalamata olives pitted

crumbled hard boiled egg is you wish (I did not)

crumbled fresh feta or goat cheese

you may add marinated hearts of palm or artichokes if you have any on hand.

First make the vinaigrette dressing:

Mince one clove of garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle heavily with salt; using a knife, scrape garlic and salt together to form a smooth paste. Transfer paste to a bowl and whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil, a teaspoon of lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar or champagne vinegar, 1 teaspoon of coarse grind dijon mustard, a minced shallot if you have one, and salt and pepper; set aside. I also chop up fresh herbs and add these to the dressing—whatever you have…basil, thyme, savory, parsley, chives……

On a pretty platter place your torn up lettuce then decoratively, or not, add the potatoes, sliced beets, chilled green beans, sliced tomatoes, olives, sprinkle with corn kernels (adds a nice sweet crunch), add slice tuna or shrimp, sprinkle with crumbled cheese, pour dressing over the entire salad and voila—–

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Here’s a previous salad made for another special lunch gathering–same salad, just different additions and presentation:

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Here are my beets ready for roasting (wash, cut off the tops, place in heavy aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, lemon zest, cracked pepper and salt. Roast at 400 for an hour–cool and peel–slice, dice or leave whole–toss with balsamic vinegar and refrigerate):

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This makes for an easy but elegant entree for any luncheon. I served it with a fresh fruit salad, and a toasted rustic rosemary loaf of bread.

Fresh pound cake with a warm blueberry compote for desert.

Finish off with refreshing lemonade—or if possible a light and refreshing prosecco.

Happy and wonderful times to be shared deserve equally wonderful foods—Bon Appetite

One comment on “Cookie Niçoise

  1. Catching up on the last couple of days from my FAVORITE blog – and I would wager there is no more satisfying and delicious cuisine than Cookie’s nicoise!!! The food and the communion are what LIFE is all about. I’d like to share my saving grace when I feel desolate: Isaiah 1: 18. This blog is MANA to my soul!

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