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Grilled salade nicoise

You probably have all heard about , right? And most of you have tried it at least once. So have I. But while I can easily evoke a mouthwatering image of a colourful salad, naming its ingredients comes up as quite a challenge. And this time it’s not me to cause the problem, it’s the salad. Finding the ultimate recipe seems impossible. Ok, so I didn’t verify this, but I’m willing to make a bet that ordering in each bistro on the French coast, you will end up eating a different meal every time.

The first version of the salad was limited to tomatoes, anchovies and a few drops of olive oil. We will find tomatoes in most of the contemporary variations of the salad - either cherry tomatoes, or thick slices of the larger ones. Anchovies either go together with tuna or substitute it. Personally, I cannot imagine a Niçoise salad without tuna, which is also the reason why I have avoided this particular salad for years. My aversion to canned tuna comes from the time when I was starting my culinary adventures at the age of 10. In one of the food magazines I found a recipe for tomatoes stuffed with tuna salad. Needless to say, this fancy presentation seemed like the essence of elegance and good taste (I was a huge fan of mini skewers at that time too), so I tortured my whole family with this dish on every occasion. I haven’t had the courage to ever try stuffed tomatoes again.

Luckily I have discovered that you can substitute canned tuna with slices of delicious, pink tuna steaks. Most recipes include haricot verts (or other beans), olives (black, Niçoise) and hard boiled eggs. Other add potatoes, artichokes, broad beans, slices of cucumber or radish, bell peppers, crunchy lettuce, capers, red onion or scallions. When it comes to dressing, different variations of vinaigrette are the most popular (with garlic, with red wine vinegar, with herbs), followed by olive oil mixed with fresh herbs, like parsley or basil.

The good new is that you can make whatever you want and still call it . I didn’t care for eggs, went with fresh tuna, grilled everything that was grillable and opted for traditional vinaigrette. You can do something similar. Or something completely different.

Recipe: Grilled salade niçoise

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 tuna fillets (about 150 g each)
  • a few baby potatoes
  • a handful of green beans
  • a few cherry tomatoes
  • a handful of olives
  • 1/2 of red onion, cut in half
Method
  • Whisk all the ingredients together.
  • Parboil the potatoes so that they're mostly cooked, but not perfectly soft (about 15 minutes). Let them cool and slice in halves.
  • Blanch green beans (about 5 minutes).
  • Grill potato halves, beans, onion quarters and tomatoes. The time depends on your grill, ingredients and individual preferences. Potatoes should be tender and golden, beans should remain crunchy, onion should be browned and tomato skins should start wrinkling. Place grilled vegetables on a plate, together with olives.
  • Grill tuna fillets for about 30 seconds each side (or longer, if you prefer the tuna well done).
  • Slice the tuna and place on the salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with lemon juice. Top the salad with vinaigrette.
  • Serve with bread and white wine.

Roasted whole chicken with lemon and thyme

I'm pretty positive that whole roasted chicken is one of the best possible meals ever. It works great for more fancy occasions, as well as for an ordinary family dinner on an insignificant weekday night.

Roasted chicken is ranked rather high on my list of possible last meals. I suppose I would go for mussels in white wine in the end, especially if they came with a really crispy baguette. Luckily, I don't have to make this tough decision at the moment. One day I can devour some chicken, another day I can enjoy the mussels. Life really is beautiful when you eat the right things.

Recipe: Roasted whole chicken with lemon and thyme

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • whole chicken - around 2 kg
  • 6-7 tbsp. of melted butter

Recipe: Marinade

Ingredients
  • juice of 6-7 lemons
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 7-8 garlic cloves, sliced
  • a bunch of fresh thyme
  • one tsp. of salt

Recipe: Vegetables

Ingredients
  • 300 g of carrots, cut into stripes
  • 300 g of potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 3 onions, cut into quarters
  • 3 tbsp. of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Method
  • Whisk together all the ingredients of the marinade.
  • Combine marinade with chicken and refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight.
  • Remove the chicken from the fridge (at least 30 minutes before roasting).
  • Fill the cavity with garlic, thyme and lemon slices from the marinade.
  • Truss the bird. Place in a buttered baking dish, breasts down.
  • Roast at 200C for 50 minutes.
  • Combine vegetables with oil, salt and pepper.
  • Remove chicken from the baking dish, place vegetables on the bottom and place the bird on top of the vegetables, this time breasts up.
  • Top with melted butter and roast for another 50 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from the oven. Wait 10-15 minute before carving.

spring asparagus salad

They say that one sallow doesn't make a spring. For me the first bunch of spring asparagus is enough of a proof.

Recipe: Spring asparagus salad

Ingredients
  • one bunch of green asparagus (if necessary, discard the bottom fourth)
  • a few potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • one tbsp. of finely diced red onion
  • one tbsp. of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • one tbsp. of sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Method
  • Cook potatoes and cut them in halves or quarters.
  • Boil eggs for 3-4 minutes. Let cool in cold water, peel them and cut in halves.
  • Cook asparagus for 3-4 minutes.
  • Whisk olive oil with diced onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  • Place asparagus, potatoes and eggs on a plate, top with red onion dressing.

stuffed pumpkin

Recipe: Stuffed pumpkin

Ingredients
  • one small Hokkaido pumpkin
  • 2-3 shallots, diced
  • 1 tbsp. of butter
  • 4-5 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp. of curry powder
  • 1/4 bunch of fresh sage
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method

croatian brudet

Recipe: Croatian brudet

Ingredients
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 500 g of tomato passata
  • one cup of dry white wine
  • 5-6 potatoes, diced
  • 500 g of fresh mussels
  • 500 g of large prawns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp. of freshly chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp. of olive oil
  • one tsp. of brown sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Method