To celebrate my French classmates and to practice the French we learn at l’Alliance Française, I decided to host a French dinner get-together – French food while speaking only in French… Parlez-vous français, anyone??? Hey, one of my friends even showed up with her books to look up any word she might forget… she’s hilarious.I decided to try a few adaptations from the cooking book and TV special that inspired me to take-up French again – Barefoot in Paris from Ina Garten. I decided my menu would be Comme Çi Comme Ça Salade Niçoise and Croque Monsieur sandwiches.
Comme Çi Comme Ça means in English “more or less” or “so so” – this salad is a karma-free version of the original, which typically includes tuna and eggs. The sandwich is also an adaptation, using a soy-protein smoked ham in place of the traditional real ham. I must say that none of my guests were vegetarian and they could not believe the deliciousness of the dinner.
I’m telling you… They were both magnifique!!!
COMME ÇI COMME ÇA SALADE NIçOISE
This salad is a composed salad with lots of ingredients. It might seem like a lot, but if you take it little by little it will not seem as daunting as the ingredients list might suggest. Please believe me, it’s simple.
1 recipe for French Potato Salad, recipe follows Roasted button mushrooms, recipe follows Marinated roasted red bell peppers, recipe follows Sautéed green beans, recipe follows 1 head of Romaine lettuce 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thin ½ English cucumber, sliced thin 2 radishes, washed and sliced thin Handful of olives – niçoise are best, but I also used lemon-stuffed manzanillas Nicoise Vinnaigrette Dressing, recipe follows
Arrange the lettuce, potato salad, sautéed green beans, roasted mushrooms, marinated bell peppers, grape tomatoes, carrot, cucumber, radishes and olives on a large flat platter.
For the French Potato Salad:
10 baby red-skinned potatoes, washed and quartered 4 tbs vegetable stock 3 tbs white wine vinegar ½ tsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp kosher salt A few grinds of freshly ground pepper 10 tbs extra virgin olive oil 1 stalk of green onion, sliced at an angle 4-5 leaves of basil, julienned
Boil the potatoes in a medium pot in salted water. Cook for about 20 minutes, until they are just cooked through.
While the potatoes boil, prepare the dressing in a medium sized bowl that can accommodate the potatoes comfortably. Whisk together the vegetable stock, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper. While whisking, add the olive oil to create an emulsion.
Drain the potatoes well and add to the bowl with the dressing. Add the chopped green onion and basil. Toss well to combine. Cover bowl with a plastic wrap and let all the dressing to be soaked into the potatoes.
Set aside until you get ready the rest of the salad ingredients.
Marinated Roasted Peppers
4-5 jarred roasted Piquillo peppers Splash of extra virgin olive oil Splash of balsamic vinegar 1 tbs capers ¼ tsp grated garlic
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and let the peppers marinate while the rest of the salad ingredients are ready.
Sautéed Green beans
½ bag of frozen green beans – I really prefer fresh, but I found non at the market so this is a cool substitute 1 shallot sliced thinly 1 clove of garlic, finely minced or grated A dash of olive oil Salt and Pepper to taste
Fill a medium saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Pour in the frozen green beans and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and sauté the shallot and the garlic lightly. Add the drain green beans and sauté with the shallots and garlic. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.
Roasted Button Mushrooms
1 pint of white button mushrooms, cleaned with a damp paper towel Olive oil Salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the mushrooms in half. Place in a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat.
Roast in oven (I do this in my toaster oven) for about 20 minutes until mushrooms are cooked and golden brown.
Niçoise Vinaigrette Dressing
1 tbs white wine vinegar 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped 2 tbs fresh lemon juice 3 cherry tomatoes, halved 1 scallion, cut in big pieces 4 olives, pitted 1 tsp capers A squirt of Dijon mustard ½ tsp salt ½ tsp freshly ground pepper ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender.
With blender running, slowly add oil until completely incorporated and emulsified.
Serve in a dressing pitcher on the side of the salad.
This salad was so delicious, that my friend’s husband could not stop eating it. This whole platter served only 4 people. Accompanied by the Croque Monsieur sandwiches and my friend’s Aniette’s Bull… this was a complete meal.