Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nicoise I Said So

Since I've gotten into a new routine, I've on a cooking roll! This sure beats the "cereal dinners" or "hummus and pita chip dinners" of yore (not like they won't happen anymore, just more seldomly!)!

This nicoise (rough pronunciation: knee-shwaa) salad was inspired by one I saw at Fresh & Easy (Neighborhood Market). I think these salads are common in France, although I'm untraveled, so I wouldn't know.

So I rounded up these ingredients below:

The actual cooking involved included boiling eggs and potatoes, cooking quinoa, and blanching green beans.

Here's the intermediate/end stage of the salad assembly. These plates were enjoyed with little nibbles of cheese and wine from "The Ukrainian." Followed by some watermelon and a couple of mini rice-cakes. Schm-ancy? Yes.


Green Beans/Spinach: Wish I had gotten fresher green beans, but the ones I got were on MAJOR sale. Spinach didn't turn out the freshest, either, but both had days before their "Best Use" date. I got them from a nice grocery, too. Hmmm...

Eggs: One cracked as I placed it in the pot to boil. Leave it to me, huh? But nothing came out of it, and it actually made it easy to open!

Garbanzo Beans: Organic, just like the tomato I used. Been trying to get organic stuff when I can these days, though I don't trip too much over it.

Tuna/Faux Tuna: I used tuna for the man plate and chickpeas for a toned-down version of my faux tuna concoction. Nicoise salads don't call for tuna-salad type tuna, so I just used what came out of the can with some cut-up pickle and salt/pepper. Likewise, I added some nutritional yeast, a little lite mayo, mustard, pickle, and salt and pepper to the beans. Without celery, it definitely lacked the tuna-ish-ness, but that's okay.

Dressing: This was the first time I made dressing, and it turned out wonderfully in spite of the substitutions I made due to not having the ingredients! Basically, I used some peach butter, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard (which I don't like but didn't bother me in this use), salt/pepper, lemon juice, and of course, olive oil. Then, I gave it the old fork-whipping.

Potatoes: Marinated this in the dressing I made, due to not knowing what else to do. Added a tiny bit of ground thyme and some oregano. I am not sure what normally goes on these things...

Quinoa: This was yummy, but I wish the grains were bigger/heavier so that they wouldn't fly away at every breeze. It also took longer to cook than I expected. I don't normally see this stuff in nicoise salads, but I wanted to incorporate more protein. Lots of leftovers -- 1/2 cup (dry) equated to about a normal rice-bowl cooked. This was tasty with the dressing. I actually re-used these in a wrap a few days later:

Above: Hummus/quinoa/red onion/spinach/tomato wrap + sweet potato


I'm definitely starting to get more creative with my cooking, given that I haven't had much opportunity to do it before. I can definitely say I'm getting a lot more nutritious meals than what I was raised on, though I'm sure I'm going to make an Asian dish at some (soon) point!

Finally, the great part about making dinner is that there was plenty leftover for a hefty portion for "The Ukrainian"'s lunch the next day. Gotta praise a dude who will eat salad, right?

Doesn't this look like a (sloppier version of) pre-packaged salad?

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