Monday, 7 April 2014

A salad for spring

This recipe for Salad Nicoise was my inspiration as a newly-wed

Time to look up some nice recipes using Spring ingredients
Winter cookbooks are now at the back of the cupboard waiting for the Autumn
It isn't only our wardrobes and homes that have to be prepared for Spring, our recipe books need an overhaul too. As the light grows stronger, the days are longer and we need to have a good clean out .
Spring is the best time to go on a detox regime because the spring fruit and vegetables are bursting with nourishment and vitamins. It is a time of new life and new beginnings and the blossom  is preparing the way for the abundant supply of fruit, cherries, plums, apricots.  Colourful meals , high in nutrients and lower in calories, are excellent remedies for detoxifying and replenishing our enthusiasm and vigour.
When I first came to Italy and got married ,in the Spring of a long time ago, I knew nothing of detox diets. All I knew was that my cooking skills were quite useless in the land where pasta was just a starter.  My friend gave me a recipe book for a wedding present. It was full of colourful salads. I seized on one called "Salad Nicoise". I loved it . It looked cheerful and fun and nutritious . My husband now has different memories from me and he is convinced that he ate nothing but Salad Nicoise for a whole year , but that can't possibly be true , can it ?Well at least we went to his Mum and Dad 's house for Sunday lunch every week. This was very important because we all need those tastes of our childhood every now and then, I could whip mine up quickly, cheese-on-toast, mince with onions,but his Italian palate was more complicated .
This is my recipe for Salad Nicoise, adapted from the one in my wedding-present cook book.

2 lettuce hearts, washed and dried and torn into bite- sized pieces.
2 tins of best quality tuna
10 stoned black olives
1 onion, cut into rings
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
100g cooked green beans
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 hard- boiled egg, cut into wedges
100ml olive oil
50ml white wine vinegar
Teaspoon of tarragon, dill - optional
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, optional

Serves 4 for lunch or 6 as a starter

Arrange the lettuce on an attractive platter. I love recipes that start like this, it is my Mum's Winnie-the -Pooh syndrome.
Mound the tuna fish in the centre and then add the other vegetables as in the picture.
Make a vinaigrette dressing with the olive oil, vinegar and flavourings, shake well in a screw top jar and pour carefully over.
In France you might find anchovies, artichokes , diced potato, or other vegetables.
Bon appetit

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