May 22 - 28 2016: Issue 264

Nicoise Salad: An Autumn Salad
Nicoise Salad with a Caesar Twist: An Autumn Salad

For months now, at dawn, you can smell Autumn close to the ground – that coolness, that smell of the earth and leaves changing is tangible. It’s not quite Chicken and Leek Pie followed by Chocolate self-saucing pudding and a small heap of fresh whipper cream season, nor is it the days when you exist on homemade sorbets – it’s somewhere in between.

The perfect food for this season will always be a combination of what is In Season; it’s fresh, you won’t need a bank loan to buy it, and as with all seasons, what comes in season is usually what your body needs to maintain peak fitness and healthiness.

Autumn is Nicoise Salad with a twist season here. Thick steaks of wild caught tuna can be bought in that great fish shop at Mona Vale and in season green beans, potatoes, plump tomatoes still available, maybe even some roasted eggplant tossed in for extra taste, are combined for something not too heavy and not too light.

A traditional Nicoise salad usually includes raw red peppers, shallots, artichoke hearts, anchovies, boiled eggs, tomatoes and Nicoise olives and other seasonal raw vegetables, but according to many sources, excludes cooked vegetables, such as green beans and potatoes, those items in variations of salade niçoise served around the world. 

The fundamentals can be adjusted though, it’s the combination of tastes that make that ‘yum’ in the mouth and will give you pure vim at dawn. Although many will tell you to use canned tuna it is well worth allowing yourself to have the fresh version, cooked rare to medium or just seared. Anchovies are a love them or leave them option too – we love them, they’re always in.

At the other polarity end of Spring, when many will serve this salad, is Autumn, and that’s a time of year that suits this dish too.

Nicoise Salad with a Caesar Twist
Serves 2
6 (about 300g) baby coliban (chat) potatoes
150g green beans, topped
2 eggs
60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of sugar
2 (about 250g each) tuna steaks
2 fresh tomatoes (we used vine-ripened)
100g (1/3 cup) kalamata olives
5-7 anchovies
1 cup fresh continental parsley leaves
75 grams freshly grated parmesan cheese

Step 1
Cook the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes or until just tender. Pop the eggs in when you turn the potatoes off – the residue heat will cook them so they’re not too hard. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to a chopping board. Halve. Add the beans to the pan and let these rest in the residue heat too. This will take away some of their crispness but still keep them bright green and with some crunch. Refresh under cold running water. Drain.
Step 2
Peel your eggs, wash your lettuce, tomatoes, drain the olives from their brine. Add these with anchovies, beans and torn parsley to a large salad bowl ready to dress.

Step 3
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard and sugar in a jug until combined. Season with salt and pepper. We also use a good quality Caesar Dressing as an alternative – extra anchovies in this!
Step 4
Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add tuna and cook for 2-3 minutes each side for medium or until cooked to your liking. Set aside for 5 minutes to rest. Flake the tuna into large pieces or leave as one piece to place on your salad base.

Step 5
Toss your salad so dressing evenly coats all ingredients. 
Divide the evenly among serving plates. Place tuna atop salad mix and a few seasoned potatoes to the side. Eat!

Recipe Ideas - Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

Apricot - January Summer Fruits  

Artichoke – The Flower Vegetable that Crops in Spring Australian and Native Cherries (Summer Fruits) - the Duntroon Connection - Marrianne Collinson Campbell Autumn is Apple Season 

Broccoli - Early Spring Crop

Cabbage - Winter Food 

Cherry - Australian summer Fruit  

Chick Pea Burgers with Homemade Hummus 

Easter Feast - modern and historic  

Edible Weeds  Eggs: Five Ways - Savoury 

Fennel - Winter Vegetable  

Figs - Late Summer Fruit  

Fresh Herbs for Health

Green Beans - Spring Vegetables

Hogmanay (New Year) Dinner - Australian Style  

Kale: for Pure Energy

Make Your Own Treats For Christmas Gifts - Jaffa Rum Balls, White Christmas, Gingerbread People, Spicy Nut Mix, Strawberries Dipped in Christmas, Scottish Shortbread, Spanish Polverones, Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies), Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Biscuits), Italian Lemon Shortbread Squares (Shortbread con crema al limone)

Mandarins Spring Fruits  Mandarins Winter Fruits  

Mangoes - Summer Fruits  

Mum'€™s Vegetable Soup with Macaroni 

Mushrooms Autumnal Shifts

Nectarines - end of Summer crop

Packham's Triumph Pears - The Australian Pear  

Parsnip - Winter Vegetables  Pear - Autumn Fruits  

Perfect Summer Picnics  

Potato Gnocchi    Pumpkin  Pumpkin Season 2015

Sage - the 'saving' herb Remembrance Day 2012 Food  

Self-Saucing Winter Puddings  Silverbeet - Winter Vegetable  

Spring Salad Season  Spring Strawberries Spring Salads  

Summer Lilli Pillis  Summer Passionfruit  Summer Peaches, Quandongs (Wild Peach) - Marian Rowan Ellis Summer Raspberries Native Ones - Adam Forster

Ten Minute Spring Salads   - fresh Spring Fare  Tomato 

Vegetable Bhaji

Winter Crops Winter Vegetable Pies   Zucchini 

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