Salad Days (some assembly required)

boiled eggs, olive, fingerling potatoes, green beans, shallots, tuna and tomatoes make up this salad

Its another hot one here in Southern California, which puts me in the mood for some lighter food and given the richness of last weeks duck tacos a few salad days might do me some good. Keeping with the Mediterranean theme that was discussed a few posts back, Salad Niçois with Seared Tuna seemed like a good way to make use of some of the freshly ripened tomatoes from our garden and produce that we’ve received this past week from Imperfect Produce. My local Sprouts has a decent selection of frozen sustainably caught fish and we try to keep some tuna and salmon in the freezer for leaner, lighter protein options.

Salad Niçois is a composed salad with greens, olives (usually Niçois), scallions, tomatoes and boiled eggs with either anchovies or tuna and dressed with olive oil. Sometime back in the 30s recipes started to appear for Salad Niçois with boiled potatoes and green beans. Which I’ve added to my version as well.  Putting the salad together involved a little bit of chopping, making the vinaigrette and searing the tuna. I used some leftover fried fingerling potatoes and then boiled eggs for about 6 minutes. During the last few minutes of the eggs boiling, I tossed in some chopped green beans along with a teaspoon of salt to blanch. Then I drained the eggs and green beans and put them into ice cold water to stop the cooking. After a few minutes, I drained the water and added more cold water.

Salad Niçois with Seared Tuna 

(serves 2)

6 cups cleaned and chopped greens ( we had hearts of romaine so that’s what I used)

2 scallions chopped

1 cup sliced and cooked fingerling potatoes

⅓ cup olives

2 tomatoes cut into quarters

2 boiled eggs

½ cup cooked chopped green beans

2 4-6 oz tuna steaks

salt and pepper

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dried oregano

1 TBS olive oil

lemon juice

4 TBS Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

To start, put the garlic clove, salt and pepper, oregano and lemon juice into a mortar and pestle and crush together until a paste forms.  Put into a  zip top freezer bag and then add the olive oil. Place the tuna steaks into the bag and rub with the marinade until all sides of the tuna are coved and set aside.  Lightly dress the tomatoes, green beans and potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette and let sit while you sear off the tuna. Using a dry non stick skillet on medium high (or on the grill if you have a wire grilling basket), sear the tuna. Don’t try to move the tuna around, when its sufficiently seared it should easily come off the pan to flip on a gas flame this is usually after about 2 minutes. Sear the other. side for about a minute if you prefer your tuna medium rare. Remove from heat and let rest on a cutting board. Assemble the salad either on individual plates or in a large bowl and dress the greens with the remaining dressing. Slice the tuna and add to the salad and serve.

 

Vinaigrette 

1 part cider vinegar

2 parts extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

Juice of ½ a lemon

½ tsp anchovy paste or 1 anchovy filet

1 crushed garlic clove

1 tsp mayonaise

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp peppercorns

½ tsp dried oregano

In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic, oregano and salt together until a past forms. Then move to a small bowl and whisk with all the other ingredients until everything is well combined.

 

Spring Rolls and light summer time fare……

It’s been crazy hot and humid in NJ these past several days. I’ve been thinking of some light dinner and lunch options. First up, are fresh Spring Rolls. I made them using left over rotisserie chicken and arugula for a little peppery bite. I just took the chicken and shredded it into a bowl then added about 1 TBS of prepared hoisin sauce. The rice noodles, are soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes then drained and cooked in boiling water for 3 minutes. They are drained again then rinsed in cold water, drained and allowed to cool.

Shredded chicken, rice noodles, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, chinese long pepper, basil leaves, and scallions all cut up and waiting to go into the spring rolls.

Shredded chicken, rice noodles, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, chinese long pepper, basil leaves, and scallions all cut up and waiting to go into the spring rolls.

Spring rolls are fairly easy to make, you just cut up the ingredients that you want to use, then wrap them in Spring Roll Wrappers. I like to take a dinner plate and put about ½ cup of warm water on the bottom of the plate. I take a dried spring roll wrapper, dip the edge into the water then rotate the wrapper until the entire wrapper has been coated with water. I let the excess water drip off, then I’ll place the damp wrapper on a plate. Place my ingredients in a pile on the edge close to me. Then I’ll roll it once, then fold in the sides and roll to the end of the wrapper. I repeat this process until I”m out of ingredients.

You can also fry the spring roll wrappers. I minced about ¼ lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp, then placed it into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. I added a clove of garlic that was finely minced, a nickel sized, piece of peeled ginger, minced, the white and green of a scallion, 1 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of corn starch. I mixed all the ingredients together and refrigerated for about 30 minutes. Once the shrimp is chilled, wet the spring roll wrappers as above and then fill with 1 TBS of the shrimp filling. Fry at 350ºF in small batches until golden brown. Serve with lettuce leaves and herbs like cilantro, thai basil and mint. They’re also served with cold rice noodle salad.

Shrimp Spring Rolls frying.

Shrimp Spring Rolls frying.

Both types of Spring Rolls are traditionally served with Nuoc Cham.

Nuoc Cham
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves of garlic mashed
1 thai red chili
3 TBS of Vietnamese Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam)
½ cup water (I’ve also used coconut soda)
2 TBS of molasses or dark corn syrup

Mix all the ingredients together until the molasses dissolves. You can store this in a container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

And here are the finished spring rolls.

Spring Rolls with Nuoc Cham

Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls served in lettuce leaves with Nuoc Cham.

Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls served in lettuce leaves with Nuoc Cham.

Here is Rice Noodle Salad with bbq beef and fried shrimp spring rolls with Nuoc Cham Dressing. The rice noodle salad employs the prep once use twice method. The veggies, herbs and rice noodles were prepped for making the fresh Spring Rolls earlier in the day. The bbq beef is left over from the banh mi sandwiches that we had last night.

Chilled rice noodles are served with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lettuce, herbs, bbq beef, fried shrimp spring rolls  and garnished with dry roasted peanuts.

Chilled rice noodles are served with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lettuce, herbs, bbq beef, fried shrimp spring rolls
and garnished with dry roasted peanuts.