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I come from a generation of unsophisticated British males for whom the word 'salad' is an anathema recalling school day servings of wilted lettuce and unripe tomatoes. Consequently I have always believed that the best salads are the ones that contain the fewest actual saladings and the most carbs and protein. Your 'Lyonnaise' is a fine example featuring good things such as egg, bacon and fried bread croutons alongside the obligatory leaves. In high summer I concede that it is a good idea not to over exert oneself in the kitchen and to knock up dishes that can be enjoyed en famille outdoors. To this end a classic 'Salade Niçoise' is an effective way of feeding people without inducing flashbacks to the bad old days.

 

salade nicoise

 

In her seminal 'French Provincial Cooking' [1960] the doyenne of food writers Elizabeth David averred that a vrai Salade Niçoise should be 'a rough country salad, rather than a fussy chef's concoction'; which is a promising start. Her core ingredients are a bed of lettuce, halved hard-boiled eggs, quartered tomatoes, anchovy fillets, black olives and capers which should be dressed with an amalgamation of fruity olive oil, tarragon vinegar, salt, pepper and a crushed clove of garlic. Her list of suggested additions (rather dated by the first) includes: 'Tunny fish, cooked French beans, raw, sliced, red peppers, beetroot, potatoes and artichoke hearts.' With the possible exception of the beetroot I tend adopt a maximalist approach and bung everything in, in generous quantities. Small, waxy Charlotte potatoes hold their shape well and provide welcome ballast. The finished article looks surprisingly appetising served in a large, shallow bowl or bowls that can be passed around as people serve themselves. It requires little accompaniment save, perhaps, some bread for mopping up juices and, of course, a glass or two of rosé. This month's Bellet: Domaine de la Source Rosé 2015 might be appropriate unless (heaven forfend) we're inundated with guests in which case I'll serve something much more pedestrian.

 

Elizabeth David - French Provincial Cooking 1960