Looking at the photos, you might think, “That doesn’t look like a ‘salade nicoise’,” and I’d have to agree. But we tend to try and do things bigger, brighter and a little differently here in California, and this salad definitely offers big taste and big color. It’s also delicious and fast and easy to prepare. So as far as I’m concerned, it checks all the boxes.
You can serve this salad for dinner when you want to eat on the lighter side–or the Paleo side, and it also makes a wonderful lunch salad if you’re having guests to your home.
1 head of red baby gem lettuce or 5-7 leaves of red-leaf lettuce
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 handful haricot verts, ends trimmed
1/2 lb large prawns, shelled except tails and deveined
1/2 a red bell pepper (organic, if possible!*), seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 fully-ripe heirloom tomato, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (any will do, but yellow provides good contrast)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white or champagne vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
Put a medium-sized pot of water on the stove to boil. Add a pinch of salt. Prepare a large bowl of ice water (or water in which you’ve dumped a bunch of ice cubes). When the water in the pot reaches boiling, toss in the haricot verts. Cook for 3-4 minutes until bright green but still very firm. Remove with tongs and immediately plunge the beans into the ice water. After 30 seconds or so, remove the beans with tongs and place on a tea towel to absorb the water.
Assuming you’ve left your pot of boiling water boiling, toss in the prawns and cook for 2-3 minutes or until they are completely opaque in color. Remove with tongs and set aside.
Wash and dry the lettuce leaves and arrange on 2-4 plates or low bowls depending on whether you are serving the salad as a dinner entree, dinner side salad or lunch entree. Top with the heirloom tomato, bell pepper and avocado pieces. Cut the haricort verts crosswise in half and add to the salad. Arrange several prawns on top of each plate/bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Drizzle the dressing over the salads and serve immediately. Note: this salad is delicious at room temperature or even cold, but I think it’s best when the prawns are still warm from their cooking.
To bigger and brighter!
*They’re not always available, but it’s important to buy organic bell peppers over conventional when possible, because bell peppers are high on the list of pesticide-laden vegetables (e.g., “The Dirty Dozen”). If you have to buy conventional, use a good vegetable-washing spray, such as Veggie Wash, to remove pesticide residue.