Picked up this book in Oxfam recently – it’s from 1977, published by Fontana, called Salad Days by wife and husband team Ursel (recipes) and Derek (illustrations) Norman. It’s the illustrations and general design that convinced me to buy it – it’s saturated with jaunty drawings of the food and preparation process, eccentrically coloured in, with a double-page spread for each recipe. Sometimes the recipes are supported by diagrams/ drawings – arrows pointing from one ingredient to the next, helping the cook understand how they should be combining the various bits and pieces. Or at least that’s the idea – I found them a little too whimsical to be practical. Basically, this book is the polar opposite of the last I cooked from, the densely packed, illustration light Francatelli’s Cook’s Guide. No haphazardly coloured in pictures of coleslaw for him!
How to combine ingredients
I made Salad Niçoise, a pretty safe bet, I reckoned.
A French provincial classic, generally accepted as originating in Nice. A truly great salad, which is almost a complete meal in itself. Its combination of ingredients give it a wholesome country character, ideal for a summery lunch. It can also be served as a hors d’oeuvre.
2 lettuce hearts
2 tins tuna fish
10 or so stoned black olives
1 onion cut into rings
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
100g or more cooked string beans
1 green pepper, cut into strips
100ml olive oil
50ml white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, crushed
(serves 4 for lunch or 6 as a hors d’oeuvre)
1. Wash and dry the lettuce and tear it into bite-size pieces. Line a nice platter with it
2. Mound the tuna fish in the centre and garnish the platter attractively with olives, onion rings, tomatoes, string beans, pepper strips and wedges of hard-boiled egg.
3. Make a vinaigrette dressing from the rest of the ingredients in a screwtop jar or bottle, and shake it to combine it all thoroughly
4. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve immediately
Note: Niçoise salad lends itself to great variation. Sometimes it can also include boiled and cubed potato, anchovy fillets, cooked artichoke bottoms or peas.
- This worked beautifully – I’ve been eating it all weekend on its own and with meats. A very nice salad, all told.
- I don’t really have a ‘nice platter’ so used a quiche dish – this was a little too small, so the salad was taller and more mounded up than was perhaps desirable .
- I didn’t have an onion, so no onion rings were involved in the attractive garnish of veg. They would make a nice addition, I’m sure.
- I used fresh tarragon, as that’s what I had. I think fresh dill instead of dried would have been nicer too.
- The vinaigrette was a little sharp. I added some caster sugar to subsequent servings and that helped, but it still wasn’t quite..there.
- Garnishing attractively is harder than I thought. A larger serving dish no doubt would have made this easier.