A warm salad may sound a contradiction in terms and it will be interesting to see the reactions on the faces of people you serve it to – just as cold soup does.
The original salad Nicoise originated in southern France and consisted of tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, black olives, anchovies dressed with olive oil. I am sure many of you have had versions that include potatoes and/or green beans and a lot of people associate it with tuna fish. This warm version is served on a bed of mixed leaves with a mixture of French green beans – the lovely thin ones – baby tomatoes on the vine, black olives and small cubes of pan fried potatoes. The dressing mixes the juices from the pan the tomatoes were cooked in with a white balsamic reduction (don’t worry, you can buy this! Alessi brand) and the piece de resistance is a poached egg on top.
Mixed salad leaves – enough to line the serving bowl
8 – 12 new potatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper (1 tbsp for the tomatoes and 1 tbsp. for the potatoes)
8 oz. small tomatoes on the vine (they tend to be nice and sweet)
5 oz. French green beans – cut in to halves or thirds
12 pitted black olives – cut into quarters
1 tbsp. capers
1 poached egg per person
Line serving dish with mixed leaves.
Boil the new potatoes in a pan with a lid on for 3 – 5 minutes (you want them to be only just cooked as they will finish off in a frying pan). Drain, then place in pan of cold water for a few minutes until they are cool enough to cut into small cubes, then fry in 1 tbsp. seasoned oil until browned on all sides and crisp.
Meanwhile, heat seasoned oil in a frying pan and, when hot, add the tomatoes and cook until a little browned and the skins are bursting.
During which time, cook the green beans in boiling water for just a few minutes – they want to be ‘al dente’.
Start poaching the eggs using your usual method
Tip green beans into pan with tomatoes and add olives and capers and cook through.
Place potatoes and tomato mixture (removed with a slotted spoon to reserve the juices) on top of the mixed salad leaves.
Stir 1 tbsp. of the balsamic into the reserved tomato oil, mix well together and drizzle over the mixed leave and tomato mixture.
Place poached eggs on top and serve immediately.