Tag Archives: Kalamata olives

Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise

I consider the salade Nicoise to be one of the great, classic salads along with the Caesar salad. This is my take on it.

As I said with the balsamic chicken salad, the haricots verts are so much better than ordinary green beans. It’s worth the effort to find them.

With the Greek salad, I encouraged you to try the yellowfin tuna in olive oil. That is a good choice for this salad as well. But you can certainly get fancier. Specialty grocery stores (and Amazon) sell tuna filets in jars. Much more expensive than even the premium canned tuna, but awfully good. Or go all the way and sear a piece of Ahi tuna, nicely rare, for a special salad. This makes a salad that you can definitely serve to company.

Some other ideas for making the salad special for guests. Get several different kinds of small potatoes. When I did this for company, I combined small red potatoes with tiny fingerling potatoes. And include a mix of various types of olives–easy to do if you have a market with an olive bar. The variety just makes the salad even a little more special.

You will notice that I am making a little more of the vinaigrette than I usually make for a salad. This is because I like to toss the potatoes, haricots verts, and tomatoes in the vinaigrette before putting them on the salad. I want to be sure I have enough to do this after having put dressing on the salad itself.

Salade Nicoise

3 to 4 small potatoes
1 helping fresh haricots verts
1–2 hard-cooked eggs

butter lettuce
Nicoise or Kalamata olives
cherry or other small tomatoes, cut in half
tuna (see discussion above)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
fresh ground pepper

Put potatoes in a pan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook until just tender, so a fork can be inserted easily. This will take something around 15 minutes, but use the fork test and start checking earlier. Drain the potatoes. Before finishing the salad, cut them in half or whatever seems appropriate for eating, given their size.

For the haricots verts, bring a pot with plenty of water to the boil. Add the beans and cook until they are just starting to get tender, 2 to 3 minutes, 2 for very crisp to 3 for tender crisp. You can take one out and check, but they will become a little more tender after you strain and rinse them, so stop on the crisp side. When cooked, strain and run cold water over them. This not only cools them down and helps to stop the cooking but also helps keep the nice green color.

Start the egg cooking in cold water. This heats the egg gradually, allowing air to escape from the shell slowly, without cracking it. Bring the water to the simmer, turn down the heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain and cool the egg. Peel and cut the egg into quarters lengthwise for the salad.

Whisk together or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, and the other ingredients for the vinaigrette. Place lettuce on the plate. Spoon some of the vinaigrette over the lettuce. Toss the potatoes, haricots verts, and tomatoes with the remaining vinaigrette. Arrange the ingredients on the lettuce, with tuna in the center.

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Greek chicken tostada

Greek chicken tostada

The idea for this salad came from a (very Mexican) tostada I had for lunch recently at the Huntington Library and Gardens near Pasadena. Most tostadas top the tortillas with the standard refried beans made with pinto beans. This tostada used black beans instead, making it distinctive and very good.

This got me thinking about whether some other types of beans might also be used to make a tostada. How about garbonzo beans/chickpeas? And you can buy this with the beans already mashed up and seasoned, ready to use: hummus.

Once I decided to make a tostada with hummus, an Eastern Mediterranean theme was obvious. I chose Greek, with feta cheese and Kalamata olives, but I wanted something else. Since I was already using one dip from that part of the world, I thought about tzatziki, the Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce/dip, which I really like. But it didn’t seem to be quite right putting dollops of tzatziki on the tostada. Instead, I put cucumber pieces on the salad and made a dressing based on the ingredients in tzatziki.

I started the dressing with my standard vinaigrette ingredients of 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, to which I added 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt. This produces a slightly thickened dressing that you might call a tzatziki vinaigrette and would be one option. I decided I wanted a thicker, creamier dressing more like tzatziki and added a third tablespoon of yogurt and then a fourth. My suggestion is to proceed in this way, stopping when you get a consistency that you like.

I think the key to this salad is moderation and balance. You don’t want too much of any one ingredient such that it dominates.

Greek chicken tostada

4- or 5-ounce piece of chicken breast
2 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
hummus
spinach, chopped
1 cup (or so) cucumber, in small pieces
Kalamata olives, cut in half
feta cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 to 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill

Bake the chicken breast in advance. When cool, pull it apart to make shredded chicken.

So the dressing can be well chilled, an hour or so before serving, mix the olive oil, lemon juice garlic, dill, and the yogurt. Start with 2 tablespoons yogurt and whisk everthing together to see the consistency. If desired, add more yogurt to get your preferred consistency. Refrigerate the dressing, as it should be well-chilled before serving.

Going in the other direction on temperature, I think the hummus and chicken, which will top the cooked tortillas, should be closer to room temperature, so take them out of the refrigerator an hour or so before making the salad.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, put in a tortilla, cook for about 30 seconds on each side until it starts to crisp up. You want it a little crispy but not as hard as a tortilla chip. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Put the tortillas side-by-side on a plate. Spread on a thin layer of hummus. Add the shredded chicken, then the chopped spinach, and on top of that the cucumber pieces.

Whisk the previously made dressing and spoon on top the salad. Top with a sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese and the Kalamata olives.

Greek frittata

Greek frittata

The feta cheese and Kalamata olives make this a Greek frittata.

This is a recipe where you can vary the flavor profile by varying the amounts of the ingredients. Add more feta cheese to make that more dominant. Or reduce the number of Kalamata olives to lower their presence in the frittata. (I would recommend these directions for making modifications.)

Greek frittata

1 cup coarsely chopped spinach
1/4 cup feta cheese plus more for the top
8 Kalamata olives, cut into quarters lengthwise

3 eggs
olive oil

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the spinach, cheese, and olives into the eggs. Pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, sprinkle on additional feta cheese and place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Honey mustard chicken salad

Honey mustard chicken salad

Honey mustard and chicken just go together. I make baked honey mustard chicken. Honey mustard sauce is often served for dipping with chicken tenders or strips. And honey mustard is a common type of salad dressing. So it is easy to come up with the idea for a honey mustard chicken salad.

A chicken breast is coated with a honey mustard mixture and baked. It is then sliced and served hot on the salad, with a bit more of that honey mustard mixture drizzled over for additional flavor. A honey mustard vinaigrette was an obvious choice for dressing the salad.

Different types of tomatoes can be used for the salad, of course. I found some mini heirloom tomatoes which I used here, which accounts for the variety of colors. I had been planning on using regular black olives but I had run out. So I used Kalamata olives, which turned out to be a good choice.

A few suggestions on preparation. I suggest lining the pan in which you are baking the chicken with foil. Some of the honey mustard mixture will run off the chicken breast, spread out around it, and turn black. It’s so much easier to crumple up and discard the foil than to scrub the pan.

The viscous nature of honey at room temperature makes it difficult to mix it with the other ingredients. My solution is to warm the honey first, which thins it out and makes the mixing much easier. I do this by putting the honey in the microwave for 15 or 20 second (less if there is a smaller amount left in the bottle). I’m just warming it up, not getting it hot. I have done this a lot, and it has never seemed to have negatively affected the honey.

Honey mustard chicken salad

1 chicken breast
1–1/2 tablespoons honey
1–1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon olive oil

leaf lettuce
tomatoes
olives

3 tablespooons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with oil. Mix the honey, mustard, and olive oil in a small bowl. Coat the chicken breast on both sides with the honey mustard mixture, reserving a small amount for spooning over the baked chicken on the salad. (This will be obvious and I really shouldn’t need to say it, but a food safety reminder is always a good idea: Since some of the honey mustard will be used uncooked, don’t let the spoon used to scoop out the mixture touch the raw chicken, and don’t let whatever you use to spread the sauce on the chicken go into the bowl.) Bake the chicken breast until cooked through, about 25 minutes or so. No problem slicing into it to check, as you will be slicing the breast before serving anyway.

Since the idea is to serve the salad with the chicken hot, before the chicken is done, prepare the remainder of the salad. Cut up the tomatoes as appropriate for their size and slice the olives you are using in half. Arrange these on the lettuce, with a spot left open for the chicken in the middle.

Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, and pepper. Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad.

When the chicken is done, cut into slices and place the chicken on the salad. Drizzle some of the remaining honey mustard mixture over the chicken to enhance the flavor.

Greek salad

Greek salad

With feta cheese and Kalamata olives, I think I can call this a Greek salad.

The idea to include tuna comes from salade Nicoise, from another location on the Mediterranean. And the Mediterranean theme is continued with the seasonings for the vinaigrette.

On the tuna, assuming you’re not going fancy, it will likely be tuna from a can. For a salad such as this, I would definitely recommend tuna packed in olive oil rather than water. I just think that goes better on a salad, especially with the olive oil in the vinaigrette. In addition, I prefer the yellowfin tuna in olive oil. I think this has a fuller flavor than albacore tuna when the tuna is standing alone. Of course the choice of tuna is yours. But if you haven’t had the yellowfin tuna in olive oil on a salad, I would encourage you to give it a try.

Greek salad

tuna in olive oil (I suggest yellowfin tuna)
leaf lettuce
1/6 red bell pepper, cut into strips
10 Kalamata olives, cut in half lengthwise
about 6 grape or cherry tomatoes (depending on size), cut in half
red onion, thinly sliced
feta cheese, crumbled

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed (less if an especially large clove)
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
fresh ground pepper

Put all of the ingredients except the feta cheese on the lettuce, with the tuna in the middle. Whisk or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, and other ingredients for the vinaigrette and add to salad. Top with the crumbled feta cheese.