I hesitated about what to call this Vegan Salade Nicoise, because it deviates rather a lot from the original French version, & you know how people can be about whether something is 'the best or original' version or not. (imagine me rolling my eyes here!)
But then I thought- y'know, recipes change according to who makes them, the ingredients available & personal taste. So although this isn't an authentic recipe, it is still a banging salad that is just perfect to eat on the terrace or seated by the (paddling) pool on a sticky summer's evening.
Even better, is this yummy vegan salad doesn't mind being made ahead of time, in fact a few hours with the ingredients getting to know each other, is definitely a good thing. Which makes it perfect for taking on a picnic, or rather more prosaically, taking for a work lunch in the hope that you might be able to escape outside & sit in the park to eat. It also makes a great accompaniment to a BBQ or cookout- the tangy dressing a perfect foil for burgers and grilled things (veggies in our case!)
I know this is a non-French (and very vegan) version of a French classic, but I will bossily tell you the things that simply must be included to make this Vegan Salade Nicoise truly great.
- Olives- Preferably Black. They provide the extra salty tang (and are very traditional.) Green olives will also do. But don't omit the olives!
- Really Really REALLY good tomatoes - get some of those cherry flavour bombs from the market. Or grow your own!
- Lots of capers & a hit of garlic in the dressing.
- Lemon juice & caper pickling juice - again in the dressing.
- Crunchy fresh french beans. (You could also use sugar snap peas. The point is the green crunch)
There are a few ingredients that I added in to variations on this salad. I've eaten it about 10 times over the last 2 weeks (for research. obvs.)
- Crunchy lettuce is good- I like Little Gem or Romaine as they give extra bite & hold onto the dressing.
- Fluffy tofu puffs you can get at Chinese supermarkets. I added some in one batch of the salad because they needed using up. Oh BOY! They soak up the dressing and are SO yummy!
- Herbs: Some parsley or chives are definitely a good addition if you have some.
Vegan Salade Nicoise
For the Salad
- 500g whole baby or salad potatoes
- 200g fresh green french beans
- 200g very good quality tomatoes (either cherry or larger. The important thing is they taste of tomato!)
- 50-80g good quality black olives (or green olives. You want the juicy real ones from the deli, not the ones from a tin!)
- handful herbs: chives or parsley are nice (finely chopped. )
For the Dressing
- 2 tablespoon capers (roughly chopped)
- 2 tablespoon caper brine (the 'juice' that the capers come in)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Juice ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoon Dijion Mustard
- 2 teaspoon agave, coconut or maple syrup (you can use sugar too- just need to make sure it dissolves properly)
For the Salad
- Boil the baby potatoes until just tender.
- Top & Tail the beans, removing any strings. Add them to the boiling potatoes & cook for around 2 minutes.
- Remove the beans & potatoes from their boiling water & refresh in cold water to stop them cooking. I like to put the beans in some iced water so they retain their snap.
- Chop the tomatoes & olives,
- Arrange everything on a plate, drizzle over the dressing & sprinkle over the herbs.
For the Dressing.
- In a cup, mug or jam jar mix together all the ingredients until they are combined. Taste & adjust (add more oil, a touch more mustard- to your own taste!)
- This recipe makes enough to dress 2 or 3 salads. Simply keep in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.