A Southern take on a French Nicoise salad, the ingredients are very flexible, and anything can be substituted for what is on hand. In fact, even the tuna is replaceable, with either cooked fresh tuna, chicken or peeled shrimp.
5 ounces canned tuna, drained
6 ounces to 1/2 pound cooked green beans
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup favorite viniagrette dressing
1 to 2 cucumbers, sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons capers or 1 small can anchovies, drained (optional)
1/3 cup black olives
1 pound tomatoes, quartered
Traditionally, Nicoise salad is served either with the ingredients separated on a plate, or layered. For simplicity, keep the ingredients separated and let each person serve themselves their own plates. Place drained tuna on a plate. Toss green beans with some fresh herbs and the dressing. Remove the seeds of the cucumber if desired. Toss with a little dressing and plate. Tuck in the capers or anchovies, olives and quartered tomatoes. For gussying up, layer in a dish, tuna on the bottom, a layer of the beans, then the cucumber. Sprinkle with the olives and optional capers or anchovies. Surround with the tomatoes, rounded side up. Brush everything with the dressing and spoon the rest of the dressing over the entire salad. Garnish with more herbs if desired.
Variations: Add halved boiled eggs and/or boiled small potatoes, both sprinkled with some of the dressing.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 14 cookbooks, including the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through Nathaliedupree.com.