June 30, 2016 — Dinner Party
‘I’m a salad guy, so much so that my colleagues call me ‘The Rabbit’ at work… and I always look forward to a weekend salad that Dad puts together around summer. It’s packed full of greens, little anchovies and yummy hard-boiled eggs, topped off with a crusty brown roll… maybe some butter too :p.’
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1 medium head of broccoli or 400g green beans (when in season)
500g salad potatoes – preferably Jersey Royals
400g ripe tomatoes
1 large tin of tuna in oil
1 tin of anchovy fillets
2 large little gem lettuces – or other lettuce type
Chopped fresh chives
White wine vinegar
Good olive oil
Salt and pepper
Good artisan crusty bread
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But what about the beans?
WDC likes to cook with seasonal produce. So a salad Niçoise presents a problem. Normally, salad Niçoise is made with beans. This means I can only eat a Niçoise when beans are in season. Although the English season is long enough to eat plenty of salad Niçoise – it does not start until quite late in the summer. So what do I do if I want my Niçoise earlier?
I use broccoli instead. Ahh, I hear you say, broccoli has a similar season to beans (June, July August), my broccoli might come from Spain or Italy.
Okay, I have to make some exceptions…
But supermarket shelves are stacked high with beans all year round. Are the supermarkets hoodwinking us into thinking that the beans are ‘seasonal’ even in winter? Well, growing beans in countries with hot climates can replicate the English growing season all year round – in a globalised world economy we can all have a perpetual supply of summer beans! But I have issues buying produce from Africa or South America. I worry about the air miles and I worry about politics affecting the cash flows to farmers.
Ahh, I hear you say again, you must buy avocados all year round – and what about all those bananas and pineapples – they cannot be grown in a non-tropical country.
Yes, more exceptions I’m afraid…
A desperate attempt to maintain seasonality in cooking…
Despite global trends, we should all try to maintain some seasonality in our cooking. It does not seem right to eat beans all year round – when we can wait with eager anticipation for the summer crops. We shall enjoy them all the more.
Seasonality helps us to appreciate a sense of time and place – to locate ourselves on a culinary calendar that ebbs and flows with the natural rhythm of the seasons. Take beans. To grow your own beans is a pure delight. They are easy and bountiful. The growing, harvesting and eating all express the quintessential essence of ‘summer’. And nothing tastes quite so special.
So if my ethics and concerns about seasonal food are a little leaky, I will hold out for at least beans – and buy them only when they are in season.
This salad is a classic combination of a few key ingredients – it must include either tuna or anchovies, eggs and green beans (see my recipe tale above…). But I always treat it as an improvisation based on what’s in the fridge and store cupboard. If I have eggs and tuna then I have the basis of a Niçoise…
A perfect winter warmer – Cassoulet!
Try Dad’s loaded low-fat salsa quesadillas with The Laughing Cow Lightest x8 cheese.
An excellent way to turn a popular Italian slow food standard into an easy and quicker family classic.
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