Serves 4 as an entree or light meal, or 2 very hungry people as a main
Yes, another salad. What was that I was saying about vegans not eating salad for every meal? It must seem as though I was lying. I wasn’t, of course. I often eat non-salad meals. And when I do eat salad, you can bet your life it ain’t no bowl of lettuce and cucumber drizzled with balsamic vinegar. What’s that even about anyway? Does anyone actually enjoy it? Not I, not I.
A Nicoise salad is in my opinion one of the top 5 salads of all time. Much like a really good coleslaw, potato salad, kale salad and Asian salad, this classic French dish it should be part of everyone’s salad repertoire. It’s a complete meal, supremely satisfying, totally delicious, pretty and when made vegan, very healthy. I’m actually surprised I’ve never come across a recipe for a vegan Nicoise salad in all these years, or been served one in a restaurant. Served with a glass of really excellent Rosé, this is one of the best meals I can think of to eat on the balcony overlooking the warm setting sun, or at a picnic. Of course, it’s also outrageously good at 10pm sitting around your cluttered dining table with your housemates.
I really urge you to give this recipe a go. If you’ve never tried a Nicoise salad before, you’re in for a treat. If you loved the original, you’ll find all the great flavours and textures in this version with no need for animal products. Just eat it.
* You can change up the vegetables depending on what you have/like. The beans, tomatoes, potatoes and lettuce are a must, but you can swap radish for cucumber or red capsicum, or add one or both as extras. Artichokes are also a great addition. I make it based on how I’m feeling and what’s fresh at the grocer.
250g fresh green beans
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 bunch radishes (approx 5 large radishes), sliced 2-3mm thick
A few handfuls of butter or romaine lettuce (don’t use a bitter lettuce), roughly torn
1/2 cup olives (I prefer a mix of Sicilian green and Kalamata)
1 heaped tbsp salt preserved capers, thoroughly rinsed
For the potateggs
12 new potatoes (or any small potatoes)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp olive oil or melted vegan butter
1/4-1/2 tsp kala namak (Indian black salt), to taste
Small pinch turmeric
For the chickpeas
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 sheet toasted nori
2 tbsp flaxseed oil
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste (but don’t skimp on either)
For the dressing
120ml olive oil
4tbsp red wine vinegar (or to taste)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed to a paste
1 tsp dijon mustard
Handful fresh basil (10-15 leaves), fine chiffonade
Sea salt, to taste
1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook until just fork tender. Add the green beans and cook another 40 seconds only. Drain and leave to cool.
2. Drizzle the tomatoes with a little olive oil, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix and set aside
3. Prepare the chickpeas. Use your hands to crush the nori up as fine as you can get it. Add to a food processor with the chickpeas, flax oil, olive oil, a good pinch of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Pulse for a few seconds until the chickpeas are broken up. Don’t turn it into a dip. Alternatively, you can mash them with a fork, but the food processor gives better texture. Adjust salt to taste and set aside.
4. Prepare the potateggs. Cut the potatoes in half. Using a teaspoon or knife, whichever you find easier, scoop the middle out to make a little crater in the potatoes. Place the scooped out stuff in a bowl with the nutritional yeast, olive oil/butter, 1/4tsp of the kala namak and the turmeric and mash until you have a smooth paste. Add more kala namak if you want it eggier, or just regular salt as needed if you don’t. Using a teaspoon, fill the craters with the mashed potato mixture. Set aside.
5. Toss the radishes with a pinch of good quality sea salt and set aside.
6. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously until emulsified. Stir in the basil and season to taste. Depending on the olive oil you use, you made need to add a little more vinegar.
7. Assemble the salad. Arrange the vegetables in separate piles on a a large platter. Place the chickpea mixture in the middle, allowing it to scatter over the other ingredients in places. Scatter the olives over the lettuce, and the capers over everything. Arrange the potateggs around the outside of the platter. Drizzle with dressing, making sure to get it over the potatoes too. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh basil. Or arrange it however you want, in individual serving bowls if you prefer. I prefer everything separate, and letting diners mix it up on their own plates.