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French vinaigrette lightens potato-based salad

Efforts to water our garden are exposing new potatoes at the soil’s surface.

It’s a sight I anticipate every year, always thankful when it aligns with the green bean harvest. That’s when meals combine the season’s tomatoes and cucumbers with good-quality canned tuna for Salade Nicoise.

While potato salad dressed in mayonnaise seems heavy in summer, a mustardy vinaigrette traditional to Provence’s quintessential composed salad lightens the ingredients for warm-weather dining. Like the Greek salad featured in this blog’s previous post, the typical Salade Nicoise features France’s own brined olives, plus capers.

Similar flavors star in this composed salad, served in Southern California and showcased in a recent issue of the Los Angeles Times. Celery leaves happily are plentiful in my garden. Look for locally grown celery at farmers markets or locally owned grocers to find stalks with lush, plentiful leaves to make up the 1/4 cup indicated in this recipe.

Source good-quality tuna, touted in a previous post, at specialty stores or online.

Sicilian Tuna Salad

40 pieces haricots verts

2 cups baby potatoes

4 (2.8-ounce) cans of Sicilian tuna, including oil, preferably Callipo (or other, good-quality, oil-packed tuna)

2 tablespoons chopped capers

1/4 cup celery leaves

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sliced fresh celery

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 lemons, juiced

Salt, to taste

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Add the haricots verts to hot water and boil just until crisp but tender, for about 30 seconds. Strain and shock beans in ice bath, then drain and set aside.

In a small saucepan, boil the potatoes until just tender, for about 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, drain and cut each potato in half.

Place prepared vegetables in a bowl. Add the tuna, capers, celery leaves, celery, parsley and lemon juice. Gently toss and season to taste with the salt.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Recipe adapted by the Los Angeles Times from a recipe by chef Antonia Lofaso of Scopa Italian Roots in Venice, Calif.

Tribune News Service photo