Nicoise Salad with (my favorite) Lemon, Ginger & Sesame Dressing

nicoise salad

 

Strudel Many years back – when Brandon and I still lived in Denver – we flew to Washington for the holidays. We met up with Brandon’s sister, Brianna, at the airport (she’d just flown in from Texas) and together we rented a car and started the 2ish hour drive from the SeaTac airport to Anacortes, where Brandon’s folks live. We’d gotten in fairly late, so by the time we got on the road we were all pretty hungry and definitely tired. Despite my secret desire to make an emergency stop for rations at Taco Bell, we were anxious to be done with the drive and decided power through, sans dinner (I also *might’ve* also been too embarrassed to suggest a run to that particular border).

 

When we arrived around 11pm, soo hungry!, Brandon’s mom, Ruth, had the table set for three. At each place setting was a lovely Niçoise salad, which included – I was utterly blown away by this – edible flowers (this was before I had a garden, so I didn’t even really believe people grew their own food – I can’t help it, I’m a city person at heart!). I remember thinking the salad was perfect – hearty enough to be filling, but not so heavy that I went to bed feeling stuffed. And the salad dressing! It was a pop of tangy flavor that went perfectly with the eggs, tuna, tomatoes, green beans, and of course, the nasturtiums.

 

Obviously, after carrying on about the amazing dressing, Ruth kindly provided me a copy of the recipe, and I learned that she’d actually made it up herself. Since then, it has easily become our go-to dressing; I probably make it about 80% of our salad-eating times. Despite having strong flavors – lemon juice, ginger, sesame oil – it’s surprisingly versatile and is well matched to most salads. However, the Niçoise is definitely a favorite way to use the dressing.

 

 

A few words of further love for this salad – as a hearty eater, I can easily say that I often don’t find salads a suitable plan for dinner; there often just isn’t enough food there to fill me up. This salad is the exception – it’s got tons of protein, starch from the potatoes, and plenty of greens. This is also our go-to “we’ve been traveling and eating too much junk” return home salad. Some people might call it a “reset button” salad – I’d call mine “would someone please give me a ton of veggies” salad.

 

 

Here’s what I put in mine this time around:

  • spring lettuce mix
  • roasted potatoes
  • roasted carrots
  • canned, drained albacore tuna
  • kalamata olives
  • green beans
  • hard boiled egg
  • feta
  • grated parmesan

 

And other ingredients that I like to use when I’m in the mood for shaking things up/don’t forget to buy them at the store:

  • avocado
  • tomatoes
  • dolmas (love the ones that come in a can from Trader Joe’s)
  • sautéed zucchini

 

And here’s the best part: Ruth’s dressing!

 

A few notes:

  • I use bottled lemon juice for this recipe (my dad is having feelings as he reads this). I haven’t found that it significantly changes the flavor of the dressing, and it’s much easier
  • Ruth suggests smashing the garlic, so that the cloves basically stay whole and you’re not eating raw garlic. I like to mince it, I feel like it infuses the garlic a bit more, but either method works great
  • As with all salad dressings, feel free to add more/less of any of the ingredients – or sub your own. I’ve seen Ruth add dukkah to it, once even a whole, over ripe persimmon; all have been tasty variations

 

salad dressing

 

Ruth’s Dress-Me-Up Dressing

with some slight alterations by Strudel

 

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

2 (heaping) teaspoons dijon mustard

10 grinds of black pepper

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 inches of ginger root, finely grated (about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons)

 

shake well, then add:

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup canola oil

 

Shake again and use with abandon.

 

 

 

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