A little history: I am a tad bit obsessed with all things French.
I have always been in love with everything about France – I am even part French – but not enough to have grown up speaking it, or to have ever been there (yet). Just enough to have it run through my blood and be imprinted on my…heart.
My dream is to one day very soon (hey honey!) go to France and immerse myself in the food, the art, the scenery, the food, the food, the Eiffel Tower, the history, the architecture, the villages and the food.
I even had a dream the other night that I had (finally!) arrived in France, made my way to a patesserie and sampled something made with apricots, and then found myself standing at the base of the Eiffel Tower, crying, I was so happy to be there.
Then I woke up.
I hate that.
To make up for that little tease, the fates sent me this month’s edition of Gourmet Magazine, and within those pages my Francophile eyes fixed on these words: “Provençal Salad”.
Really, Gourmet, you had me at Provençal. And then you added Salad. Heaven.
Provençal Salad (of the gods)
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, July 2007 Issue, page 70
Serves 4 (as a main course)
Side note: The original recipe called for 12 ounces of imported tuna packed in olive oil, drained, to be added in the final step with the eggs. I personally do not care for fish at all ( I KNOW – HOW could I be even just a little French and not like fish? Sorry.), so I simply omitted this step. You could just as easily add it back in. Also, the vinegar originally called for was actually champagne vinegar, which I had a hard time locating within a decent price range, so I went with white wine vinegar instead. Just as satisfactory, I am sure.
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard (get the good stuff!)
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch kosher or sea salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb green beans, trimmed and snapped in half
1 lb small Yukon Gold potatoes (by small, this means try to find some only a couple inches in diameter)
1 large tomato cubed, or 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
3 tablespoons rinsed and drained capers
1/2 cup coarse chopped flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 bunch)
4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
(To hard boil eggs: place eggs in a small saucepan with just enough water to cover and set to medium-high heat. Once water comes to a boil, set timer for eight minutes. Once eight minutes have passed, remove eggs from heat and rinse under cold water to stop cooking.)
Set a large pot of salted water to boil.
Meanwhile, To Make the Dressing:
Whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly, until oil is emulsified. Set aside.
To Make The Salad:
Once the water has come to a boil in the large pot, cook the green beans, uncovered, until tender – about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water (or rinse under cold water in a colander) to stop cooking. Drain and pat dry.
Add potatoes to boiling water and simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes until tender. Drain. Halve potatoes while warm and toss with green beans, tomatoes, olives, capers, parsley and dressing in a large bowl. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and top with eggs. (And tuna, if desired).
This was so wonderful, I made it twice. In a row.
I made the second batch for my BFF. Because best friends must share in things this good. Plus, best friends make best brownies (sans one egg and baking powder and with the addition of 1/2 cup walnut halves) to go with it.
Perhaps someday soon, I can eat something like this at the base of my beloved Tower Eiffel, or in the lavender fields of Provence, maybe even at the table of my favourite author.
In the interim, this brings me pretty darn close.