Salad Nicose; Classic Summer Supper Salad

This dish is a family favorite in those steamy summer months of ripe tomatoes and hot days which lead to evenings that feel too warm for a big heavy meal. This salad is composed of several vegetables cooked until just barely done, bathed in a simple EVOL vinaigrette and topped with oil packed tuna. Fresh, satisfying and very healthy in that trendy Mediterranean way I keep reading about. This salad is my daughter’s favorite from her teen years; she is 30; I have been making it for decades! My mother loved it too. My guy enjoys it as well. I don’t make it except in summer as the fresh produce is critical to the flavor especially the tomatoes.

First, you start with fresh ripe summer tomatoes, crisp bell peppers, tender zucchini and high-quality small potatoes, preferably red organic ones and the oil packed tuna of your choice. Do not make it with water canned pallid tuna, a total waste of time in my opinion. You can lay it on a bed of romaine leaves or leave off the lettuce, great either way. I use fancy olives sometimes, but inexpensive small canned pitted ones work really well. Please do make the homemade vinaigrette; it is very simple and very effective in creating the perfect flavor of the salad. If you hate one of the ingredients; leave it out. I do want to mention that many recipes use wedges of hard boiled eggs but my version doesn’t usually have that. Feel free to add them in!

Before I add the tuna….

Angie’s Salad Nicose

Ingredients

2 lbs of small red potatoes

2 medium peppers; one red, one green, cut into vertical strips and halved across the middle.

1 medium zucchini sliced in 1/2 inch half rounds

1/2-2/3 lb fresh green beans, tips removed, if long cut in half

2/3 of a 14 oz can of small pitted olives, drained

1 large ripe tomato cut into chunks

2 cans oil packed tuna fillet

Vinaigrette
I used one of those good Seasons vinaigrette jars to mix my dressing in; I know….terribly old fashioned but they do work well!

Fill jar with red wine vinegar to the water line (second line from bottom) (abut 1/4 cup)

Fill rest of way to oil line with EVOL (I often do half EVOL and half mild olive oil) (bout 2/3 cup)

Then add the following:

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp. French Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp sea salt; rounded

ground black pepper to taste – cap it and mix it up well

Salad directions

Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water and boil on high until just tender. Whie, they cook chop the individual veggies. Steam each kind individually in a pot with 1/2-inch water until just tender (3-5 min) Taste one to be sure., do not overcook them! Carefully drain each cooked veggie and dump gently into a big bowl. On top of each other. Make the vinaigrette as you do the cooking so it can stand 5-10 minutes. When the potatoes are done drain them and set on your cutting board to cool; not touching each other. Peel them and slice thickly. If they are oval, I sometimes just cut into two thin halves, cutting along the long side. Put them in the bowl you will serve the salad in. When all hot potatoes are peeled pour 1/3 of the vinaigrette over them and carefully turn with a big spoon to coat well. They should still be quite warm when you do this step. The dressing soaks into the warm potatoes; doing it warm is very important to the flavor. Put the cooked and drained veggies in there on top. Add the tomato chunks, tuna and olives. add another third of dressing and gently turn the salad to mix well. Adjust the salt/pepper and dressing amount. Serve on a plate or shallow bowl on a bed of torn up crisp romaine leaves. Enjoy!

Refreshing…Cool as a Cucumber Soup!

Summer, time of Italian ice, ice cream, Popsicles, tomato sandwiches, salads full of fresh cold veggies and cucumber soup!  Really, cucumber soup on a hot summer day is cool on your palate and fairly healthy. And we have had a lot of hot days of late; so you are due for a refreshing cool soup. It is also a perfect use for three cukes straight from your overburdened cucumber vines.  Or three cucumbers from a produce stand.  The fresher the cuke the better your soup will be.

This recipe came out of a magazine a decade or two ago, one of my sisters made it once for me and I got the recipe then and have been so pleased with it’s flavor and texture.  I have made raw cucumber soups and they are enjoyable but this is hands down my favorite cucumber soup.  If you don’t like dill leave it out. I have done that; it is more delicate and you can then really taste the hint of lemon in the soup.  Once I made it with vegetable broth for a vegetarian and it was excellent that way too.

cucumber soup

Cucumber Soup

Take 3 medium cukes, peel them, cut in half at the middle point and then in half again from the stem to end so they are like short cucumber canoes. Then scoop out most or all of the seeds.  Shred the cuke canoes into a big bowl using the biggest hole size on your shredder.  Drain in a strainer but save the juice to add to the soup along the way.

Cut up one small onion: 1/3 cup or so.

Cut up 3 scallions

Melt 2 tbsp of butter and a tbsp olive oil in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Add the onion, cook 1-2 minutes and then add the shredded cuke.  Cook 5 min, add the scallions, stir, then add chicken broth to cover; 2.5 to 3 cups.

Add ½ cup dry white wine, the reserved cuke juice and the zest of ½ a lemon (1 tsp).  Sometimes if I don’t have an open bottle of white wine I use vermouth; it works well in a pinch.

Heat until nearly boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 20-25 minutes.  Let cool at least 30 minutes and puree.  You can use an immersion blender, a regular blender or a food processor.  The boat motor blender (immersion) is much more fun and easier.  I like to leave a bit of it unblended so it isn’t really smooth like a true cream soup.  Add 1 cup sour cream and 1 tsp sea salt, whisk well.  I use light sour cream; Daisy is my favorite brand.   Add 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh dill.  Stir well.  Chill 4 to 6 hours.

I often chill the bowls if it is a hot day and so ice cold soup goes into equally cold bowls.  You can garnish with a dill frond or not. Or a small dollop of sour cream can be pleasant.

The photo above is from a past family dinner party.  It makes a big jar; enough to serve 6-8 people.

Chilled cucumber soup; it’s a great starter to a meal on a hot summer evening or for a light lunch pair it with a salad or some grilled fish.  Yumm!

Originally published July 2014.