Saturday, March 13, 2010
Salade Nicoise (niˈswaz), is a hifalootin name for a viniagrette-based tuna salad. It's also the filling for Pan Bagnat, (pan ban-YAH, I always need to check the pronunciation, myself - darn those French and their silent Ts!) which is just this salad stuffed into a baguette.
This is a frequent warm-weather lunch in our home; now that spring is in the air, I'm starting to get cravings for it. It's light, quick to make from pantry ingredients - and most importantly, it's incredibly healthy. At least mine is, as I omit the hardboiled eggs and use lowly canned sardine instead of tuna.
Why sardines? Well, first of all, I think the flavor is better. More importantly, though, sardines are low on the food chain and therefore have none of the health risks of tuna: they are lowest in the mercury and other pollutants that collect in the fats of big old predators, and best of all, they're aboundant and sustainable...and thus, cheap and readily available - the ideal Food Desert food!
The other reason is that these fish are canned whole, bones included, vastly improving their nutrition. In an oft-quoted Town & Country magazine article entitled "The Unsung Sardine" author James Villas wrote "ounce for ounce, sardines provide more calcium and phosphorus than milk, more protein than steak, more potassium than bananas, and more iron than cooked spinach."
1 tin of sardines, drained
2 tbsp chopped canned black olives
2 tbsp canned capers
2 tbsp canned pimientos, drained, rinsed and chopped
1 small can green beans, drained and rinsed (if your food desert has frozen, by all means use them, blanch them in boiling water for a minute first)
2 tbsp Olive Oil (extra-virgin if available)
1 tbsp wine or cider vinegar
1 tsp prepared mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and a dash of salt and pepper; set aside. Carefully fold together remaining ingredients , keeping fish in large chunks. Dress with oil and vinegar mixture. Season to taste and serve on crackers.