Thursday 21 September 2017

Forkful's easy suppers: Mackerel Niçoise

Mackerel Nicoise. Photo: Mark Duggan
Mackerel Nicoise. Photo: Mark Duggan

Aoife McElwain

Wasn't it such a delicious surprise to have a gloriously sunny Bank Holiday Monday earlier this week? I hope you were able to enjoy it and relish it to the full. Perhaps you were even able to fire up the barbecue and eat al fresco.

Sunny weather calls for summery salads, and you can't get much better than the classic niçoise.

This salad was born in the French city of Nice in the late 19th century, and was traditionally composed of tomatoes, anchovies and olive oil.

One of the earliest known recipes - from the French chef and teacher Henri Heyraud's La Cuisine à Nice, written in 1903 - included tomatoes, anchovies, artichokes, olive oil, red pepper and black olives.

The niçoise salad grew in popularity in the 20th century and evolved into the salad we know today, which is typically associated with tuna, green beans and boiled eggs, though traditionalists do get a bit cross about these variations on the original theme. When the Michelin-starred chef Héléne Darroze posted a salade niçoise recipe on Facebook last year that dared to include the additions of cooked potatoes and green beans, purists decried the recipe as being a "sacrilege".

Though tradition has its place, it's also fun to innovate and adapt recipes, taking inspiration from the old to create something new.

So perhaps I'm being provocative calling this salad Mackerel Niçoise. Maybe it would more appropriate to call it Mackerel Niçoise-ish.

Mackerel Niçoise

Serves 2

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

5 baby potatoes

1 egg

4 ripe tomatoes

Quarter of a red onion

8 black olives

200g green beans

100g smoked mackerel

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

Salt

Pepper

METHOD

1. Place the potatoes and the egg in a small saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the egg and place under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside. Let the potatoes boil for another 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. Slice the tomatoes into quarters. Slice the red onion into very thin half moon shapes. Slice the black olives in half. Add the tomatoes, red onion slices and black olives into a large mixing bowl. Slice the cool baby potatoes and add them to the mixing bowl. Finally add the green beans.

3. Peel the cooled egg and slice in half. 4. Make the dressing by mixing together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and mustard. Add half of the dressing to the large bowl with the salad ingredients and mix well.

5. Flake the smoked mackerel into the large bowl. Mix with the salad ingredients. Season with generous pinch of salt and pepper.

6. Divide the salad into two bowls and add half a boiled egg to each bowl. Serve with the rest of the dressing on the side alongside some crusty bread.

This week's storecupboard essential:

Olives: They're not everyone's cup of tea but olives for me are the taste of sunnier climes. I've long been a fan of The Real Olive Company, who have stalls at markets all over the country, including The Green Door Market in Dublin, The Milk Market in Limerick, and The English Market in Cork. Find them online at therealoliveco.com

Irish Independent

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