The weather has been so unseasonally hot over the last couple of days - well into the 20s (or the late 70s for those of you who prefer to think in Fahrenheit) - that I’m suddenly fast-forwarding to summer and one of my favourite meals, Salade Niçoise.
It’s one of those classic dishes over which strong views rage - over the presence or absence of tuna, anchovies or, more controversially still, green beans and potatoes. Jacques Médecin in his Cuisine Niçoise claims that the original was made predominantly of tomatoes and consists exclusively of raw ingredients (apart from hard-boiled eggs) and would not have been dressed with a vinaigrette, merely with olive oil. Seared tuna, a popular replacement for tinned tuna nowadays, is a totally new-fangled invention.
Personally I like to gild the lily so I break all the rules. I blanch some fine green beans and refresh them with cold water. I lay them on a plate and scatter them with small, sweet cherry tomatoes, some torn fresh basil leaves and some generous chunks of tuna (I like the Spanish tuna which comes in jars rather than in tins. Ortiz is a good brand). I drizzle all that with a little vinaigrette, top it with some halved or quartered hard boiled eggs over each of which I sometimes (unforgiveably) dollop a teaspoon of mayo. I drape anchovies over the top than scatter the salad with a handful of black olives. I serve warm, buttered new potatoes with it. And a glass of rosé, of course.
You can drink any rosé you like but I personally find the fruitier styles from Chile and elsewhere in the New World just a bit too sweet for this dish. I also find many Provencal rosés a touch wimpy. What you need is a bold, dry southern French rosé from the Rhône or the Languedoc. The rosés from Costières de Nîmes are particularly good. Or a Spanish rosado from Rioja or Navarra. But that would probably break the rules too.