Enjoy healthy salade Nicoise on busy weeknight

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My middle child graduates from high school this week. The group we homeschool with has a wonderfully sweet tradition of having a one-minute long slideshow for each graduate that shows their progression in photos from baby to high school senior all accompanied by their favorite song.

I am struck by a couple of things when I watch the slide shows. First, it’s amazing to see how much kids change from toddlerhood to young adult. Their faces and bodies change, yes, but so do their interests and abilities. It’s great to see. And yes, I usually cry.

The other thing I often think about is how many meals they had to eat to get where they are today. Think about it. I calculated kids eat around 6,570 dinners from the time they are born to the age of 18. If you subtract the first year of life, thanks to nursing and baby formula, that is still 6,205 meals.

What did those meals look like? For my daughter, many of those meals in her toddler years were dairy-free and gluten-free because she could not digest those things. No macaroni and cheese for her! But that meant lots of vegetables, fruit and protein of some kind.

As she outgrew those intolerances, I was able to add cheese, yogurt and bread to her diet in small amounts. Because we had to be diligent in the early years, and because she has played sports from an early age, she developed a healthy attitude and outlook towards food, always looking at it as “fuel” for her body, never an enemy to be avoided.

I am proud of the food choices that she makes today as a teenager. She eats so much healthier than I did as a teen. As she embarks on her college career and future life, the one thing I don’t feel I have to worry about it is her nutritional well-being.

This week’s recipe comes from The New York Times. Amazingly, this salad is ready in under 30 minutes, but it looks like you spent all afternoon on it. A healthy mix of protein from the eggs and fish, good fats from the olives and olive oil, and good carbs from the potatoes and green beans, this salad makes for a satisfying dinner on a busy weeknight before graduation.


Salade Nicoise

(Serves 6)

Ingredients

  • 8 new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons wine vinegar
  • Minced parsley or snipped chives to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds lightly cooked green beans
  • 10 Italian plum or 6 Jersey tomatoes, very ripe
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup Nicoise or any oil-cured olives (do not use canned)
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and quartered
  • 12 ounces oil-packed white tuna, drained
  • 1 bag mixed salad greens or arugula
  • 2 ounces anchovy fillets

Directions

Bring a pot of water to boiling. Add the quartered potatoes (or you can use whole baby new potatoes) and bring water back to boiling. Cook for nine minutes. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

If your green beans aren’t cooked, you can pour boiling water over them and let them sit five minutes and drain. While potatoes are boiling, make the vinaigrette. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, wine vinegar, and chives or parsley. Slowly add in the olive oil, constantly whisking. An alternative is to put all the ingredients in a blender and pulse for a few seconds to blend. Set aside.

To arrange the salad, you have some choices. One way is to keep all the green beans, tomatoes, onion, olives, and potatoes with their own kind and place over the salad greens. This makes for a pretty presentation, then you can pour dressing over everything just before serving and toss.

The other way of arranging it is to toss together the green beans, tomatoes, onion, olives, Italian parsley and pepper with the potatoes. Pour half the vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss gently.

To serve, transfer the salad to a large serving platter or individual serving plates. Arrange the egg quarters around the plate. Flake the tuna over the salad and arrange the anchovy fillets over the tuna. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.

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Betty Williams