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Salade Nicoise Recipe

What makes a salad a salad "Nicoise" is the use of olive oil and olives, which are prevalent in the Nicoise area of Southern France. This salad is a great way to make your garden's fresh green beans the center of your dinner party.

Vinaigrette ingredients:
2 tablespoons sparkling wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cover hard-neck garlic - minced
1/2 cup olive oil - ideally French or Corsican
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:
3/4 pound green beans - trimmed
8 leaves butter or green leaf lettuce
8-16 small boiling potatoes - steamed and halved
1 cucumber - thinly sliced (optional)
1 can (7 oz) As Do Mar tuna in oil - drained and flaked
4 farm-fresh eggs - hard cooked and quartered
3 medium ripe tomatoes - quartered
1/4 cup Nicoise olives
10-12 salt-packed anchovy fillets - split lengthwise, soaked in milk and drained OR olive-oil packed anchovies drained

1. Make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard and garlic. Whisk in the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of cold water to a boil over high heat. Add salt and green beans and cook about 8 minutes - or until slightly "al dente" or crunchy. Drain and refresh in ice water. Dry thoroughly and reserve.

3. Line a shallow serving bowl or platter with the lettuce leaves. Arrange four mounds of potatoes and drizzle with about half of the vinaigrette. Arrange bundles of green beans, cucumber fans, portions of the tune, and arrange the eggs and tomatoes around the edge. Sprinkle with the olives and garnish with the strips of anchovies. Drizzle everything with remainder of the vinaigrette and cover. Chill 1-8 hours before serving.

serves 4-6