Tag Archives: eggs

Recipe: Salade Nicoise with Salmon

1 Jul

Sometimes, you just get tired of lettuce and yearn for something a bit “more.” The deconstructed Salade Nicoise meets that need. It is one of my favorite salads for that reason, and because all parts of it can be prepared in advance. Plus, salad makers with an artistic flair can have a lot of fun deciding how to present the ingredients to maximum effect. To earn the name “nicoise,” a dish must contain a few specific items: olives, garlic, French green beans, tomatoes, and anchovies (or tuna in oil). Artichokes and hard-boiled eggs are also characteristic of a salade nicoise, but just as I was assembling this one in front of a hungry audience I realized I had forgotten to boil the eggs…. So, no eggs this time around. However, the beauty of this salad is that you can improvise and make it with whatever you have on hand. I had a craving for broiled salmon, so substituted that for the tuna, and added corn off the cob and chick peas, just because. Three hungry people polished off this platter–but with some crusty bread on the side, it could feed four less ravenous eaters. The recipe below is a free-form one–the quantities of all the ingredients (and the ingredients themselves) can be adjusted as desired.

Salade Nicoise 2
Salade Nicoise with Salmon

1 filet of salmon, about 1 lb.
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh lemon juice

2-3 ears of corn, husked, with silky threads removed
a couple handfuls of thin, French-style green beans, rinsed
6-8 small red potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed but not peeled, and cut into quarters
3 eggs (which I forgot)

1-2 ripe tomatoes, diced
nice black olives, about 1/3 c. (I had Kalamata on hand, but Nicoise or other French olives would be more traditional)
cooked chickpeas, about 1/2 c.
8-10 canned/tinned artichoke hearts

your favorite garlicky vinaigrette

Preparation

1. Set oven to broil. Pat the salmon dry and place on a rimmed cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Rub the salmon with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle lightly with lemon juice, and broil a couple minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool, then cut into chunks.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the corn cobs and green beans into the pot, and cook 5-8 minutes or just until tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables from the pot and place them in a colander set on a dinner plate. Take the colander to the sink, rinse the vegetables in cold water, and set them aside. Keep the water in the pot boiling.
3. Drop the quartered red potatoes into the boiling water and cook until tender; remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Finally, gently lower the eggs into the boiling water, turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the eggs cook for 10-12 minutes. Remove the eggs and place them in cold water to cool, then peel and quarter them.
4. Take a cooked corn cob and stand it on its end on a stable cutting board. Carefully cut the corn off the cob in vertical strips with a sharp knife. If the green beans remain wet, pat them dry.
5. Assemble the salade nicoise by placing all the ingredients (including the tomatoes, olives, chickpeas, and artichokes) in an alternating pattern on a large platter. Drizzle lightly with the vinaigrette, and serve with additional vinaigrette on the side.

Sweetness or Deceit? Attracting Pollinators

28 Sep

Plants are wily, in their own ways. Some beguile with sweetness, others lure with deceit. This weekend at the United States Botanic Garden, I saw examples of both.

The Jamaican Poinsettia (Euphorbia punicea) takes the nicer approach. Below, you can see the brightly colored bracts, which are modified leaves, and a yellow, cup-like flower cluster called a cyathium. Insects are attracted to the clusters by the reddish-pink bracts and are then rewarded with the sugary nectar; in the photo, the glistening drops are almost overflowing from the cups. Arising from the center of the cluster is the pistil (the female reproductive organ), with three curved stigmas at the top, waiting to receive a dusting of pollen from the visiting pollinator.


Successful pollination leads to the development of a seed-bearing fruit. But if the plant has not been successfully pollinated, the fruit may wilt and never produce seeds.

Other plants, such as the Carrion Flower (Stapelia gigantea), attract pollinators by pretending to be (and smell like) something they are not: rotting flesh. You might think that if someone knows a flower smells like a decomposing mammal, s/he would avoid taking a sniff. But no. I partook of the putrid odor more than once, and can confirm that the flower does indeed smell vile. I pointed this out to other passersby, who also conducted repeated olfactory experiments of their own with identical results…. But back to the plant. In addition to its odor, this wrinkly and hairy flower is also meant to look like a decaying, oozing, leathery, peeling dead animal.


And boy, do some insects love that. Perfect spot to lay eggs, with plenty of food for the larvae, or so they think. They are mistaken; their reproductive efforts are futile. But they will have served their purpose: to help ensure the reproduction of the plant by taking and depositing pollen as they go about their business. A devious deception indeed. Here is a close up of the inside of the flower, complete with a green bottle fly circling around, and a pile of ill-fated eggs below.