A tale of two salads – which one are you??


I took Becky’s headnote to Albacore Nicoise (pg 164) as a challenge:

How a Nicoise Salad is "supposed" to look, right??

“It is a composed salad, meaning a dish where you can show your guests your personality type. Anal types will place each ingredient in efficient, color-coordinated piles, most likely not touching each other. Laissez-faire types will have everything piled randomly on the platters. I leave this up to you and your therapist.”

Well, if you know me at all, you know what my plate was going to look like – am I right?? Yes, I have been called a control freak a time or two (okay, a lot!) so I was pretty sure how the pretty little photo of this dish would turn out if I was left to my own devices.

But I decided to have a little fun with it, and issue a challenge to my partner Katy, just to see what might happen.  I told her Becky had a theory about this salad (without explaining what the theory was), and I assembled all the components across our kitchen counter.  I left the room and she was to assemble her own salad plate, and then I would come back and assemble mine…and then we’d test Becky’s theory.

For those wondering about the recipe, it’s the easiest of the tuna recipes, which is not to say there isn’t a fair amount of prep work.  Becky made easy work of the tuna by calling for canned troll-caught tuna (“I offered it as a convenience item for the harried weeknight home cook”) but you could make your own oil poached version from the same chapter of the book.

But it takes about an hour to slow roast the tomatoes, and you’ll need to boil the Yukon Gold potatoes and dress them with a delicious tuna oil-mustard-lemon mixture. Oh, and you’ll need to make some Dilly Beans (pg 155) to add a little zip and zing to the dish, and hard boil some eggs.  Not quick, but worth the time and effort…so on to the assembly!

So, you're going to eat that...like...a...wrap...?

Once Katy and I had worked our individual plating magic, the results were pretty predictable.  I created a perfectly ordered plate, with piles of ingredients that did not touch and lovely symmetry among all the players :)  Katy, being much more free-spirited than I, designed a beautiful melange of mix-match ingredients on just two lettuce leaves, which she then proceeded to eat like lettuce wraps. Aagh!

I had to laugh and restrain myself from telling Katy “this isn’t a lettuce wrap recipe, it’s a salad!” but you know damn well I was thinking it!  But I kept my mouth shut and poured us a lovely glass of vinho verde that glossed over even the possibility of a debate.

Viva la difference!

And you know what? I think her version was prettier than mine, and I know both versions tasted fantastic, so who the hell really cares, right??

And that is the lesson for today, class.  Be creative. Have fun. Don’t care what anyone else does or says. Be you.

FINALLY, I want to know – how would you have assembled YOUR salad?!  Bonus points for including a picture in your comment below

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  1. Hmmm, I’ve never had a salad Nicoise, so I’m not sure how I’d handle it. Katy’s (while showing a lot of exuberance) probably wouldn’t be my approach — I can’t imagine doing the lettuce wrap thing, for sure. I think I’d structure it like a 7 layer dip, setting down some foundations (maybe with the beans?) and gradually adding to it as I worked upwards. Looks tasty, for sure!

    And Karen, piles not touching each other? :-) Come on! I feel sure it was a family member who told me “it all ends up in the same place anyhow”. ;-) Seriously, though, I’d never thought about how a salad suggests something about personality. You think this has cross-over? Am I revealing this kind of detail about myself when I make a sandwich?

    • Karen Rosenzweig says:

      7 layer dip? now that’s an interesting idea…and of course I let the ingredients touch each other – just not much :)
      thanks for reading along and commenting – it’s good to hear from you more often!

  2. Cindy Fester says:

    I’m laughing about the construction. Hey, if the ingredients are prepared well, who’s to say. I’m pretty sure mine would have looked a lot more like yours than like Katy’s, although mine most likely would have a “tossed salad” look to it. I’d have never thought of a lettuce wrap, but liked the idea. Fun to think about!


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