Colorful summer salad from sunny Provence

Salad Nicoise, perhaps the most summery of summer salads, is a colorful composition of tomatoes, eggs, green beans, potatoes, tuna, anchovies and other Provencal garnishes. Tossed with a light vinaigrette, this salad makes an attractive first course, a nourishing main course dish on a hot evening, or an attractive addition to a seaside picnic.

French cooks disagree about the true recipe or Salade Nicoise, and the ingredients may change according to the season, but hard-boiled eggs, anchovies, olives and tomatoes are constant elements.

Here Julia Child offers her recipe, and admonishes the cook who makes a beautiful arrangement in a salad bowl, pours on the dressing, and mixes the salad together. Her method is to toss each individual item in a separate bowl with the dressing and seasonings, then arrange a salad which will be beautiful for serving. Salad Nicoise 3 cups cold, blanched green beans 3 or 4 quartered tomatoes 1 cup vinaigrette, recipe follows 1 head Boston lettuce, washed and drained 3 cups cold, sliced potatoes 7-ounce can tuna chunks, drained 1/2 cup pitted black olives, preferably the dry mediterranean type 2 or 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled, quartered 6 to 12 canned anchovy filets, drained 2 or 3 tablespoons minced, fresh herbs -- basil, parsley Vinaigrette: 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard Salt 1/2 to 2/3 cup olive oil Freshly ground pepper Fresh herbs

To make vinaigrette, beat lemon juice and vinegar together in a small bowl with mustard and salt. Gradually add oil by droplets, beating vigorously. Season with pepper and fresh herbs.

Toss warm sliced potatoes with 1/4 cup of vinaigrette, and 1 tablespoon minced shallots or scallion, if desired. Cover and refrigerate.

Just before serving, season beans and tomatoes with several spoonfuls of vinaigrette. Toss lettuce leaves with several spoonfuls of vinaigrette and place around edge of a large salad bowl or deep round platter. Arrange potatoes in middle of bowl.

Decorate with beans and tomatoes, interspersing them with tuna chunks, olives , eggs and anchovies. Pour remaining dressing over salad and sprinkle with fresh herbs.

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