This salad is hearty, healthy and full of flavor. There are many versions of salade niçoise of course (as described here by Nigel Slater). To me, the best is served by a wonderful friend of mine in New York, who is an amazing cook. I tried to re-create her recipe here as best as I could. She uses lots of parsley on the salad and garlic in the vinaigrette, which I love. With the capers and olives already being quite salty, anchovies are not so important anymore, so this works well for vegetarians (you can also leave out the egg if necessary). I used beets here instead of the traditional tomatoes.
Ingredients (for four portions):
One head of romaine lettuce or other greens
About 12 small new potatoes
100 g haricots verts (french green beans), washed and trimmed
Half a cucumber
One large or two medium-sized beet root, cooked and peeled
Three tablespoons of capers
One cup of black olives, pitted
Two eggs (if using)
Half a cup of chopped parsley
Two cloves of garlic
Five tablespoons of olive oil
One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
One tablespoon lemon juice
One teaspoon Dijon mustard
Half a shallot
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the dressing, mince the shallot (save a few rings to add to the salad later), mash the garlic and whisk them together with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Bring potatoes and water to boil in a pot and cook until potatoes are tender, about eight minutes. Cut the potatoes in halves or quarters and toss with a few spoons of vinaigrette in a bowl; set aside. Cook the beans in lightly salted water until tender but crisp, about five minutes; transfer them immediately to a bowl with ice water when done, then drain and coat them with vinaigrette in a separate bowl. Meanwhile, boil the eggs (if using) for six to eight minutes, depending on which consistency you prefer.
Cut or tear the lettuce into smaller pieces and mix with the remaining vinaigrette. Cut the beet in small cubes and the cucumber into thin slices. Arrange the lettuce on the plates or a serving platter, place the beets, cucumbers, potatoes, beans, shallot rings and olives on top. Peel the eggs (if using), slice them in quarters and arrange them on the plates or platter. Sprinkle with parsley and capers and drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad. Season well with salt and fresh pepper.