The spring holidays are upon us and most of you out there are scouring cookbooks and recipe sites planning your Easter and Passover menus. While it can be difficult to accommodate dietary restrictions and still plan an elegant and festive menu, Sarah and I have a great idea for a vegetarian lunch or brunch for a crowd. Deconstructed Nicoise Salad!
Take all the components of the classic French cafe salad and separate them into their own flavorful dish on a buffet table. Guests can help themselves to how ever much or little of a particular dish they want. Vegetarians feast on herbed green beans, deviled eggs, tomatoes with olive vinaigrette and steamed potatoes. Meat eaters add poached salmon to their salads and everyone goes home happy, after a fresh muffin and a mimosa of course. (For table decor ideas click here.)
Deconstructed Vegetarian Niçoise
Truffled deviled eggs
Tomatoes in olive vinaigrette
Steamed green beans with fresh dill
Steamed tri-colored fingerling potatoes
Yogurt herb dressing
The idea here is to serve the individual components on separate platters on a buffet table so guests can build their own salad. We like to use a variety of platters in different heights and sizes–e.g. a wooden board for the truffled deviled eggs, a tall white compote dish for the tomatoes in olive vinaigrette– to add interest and height to the buffet table. Start by gently breaking your butter lettuce into individual leaves and plating them in a large bowl.
Truffled Deviled Eggs
12 large eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise plus 2 teaspoons
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon truffle oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh chives for garnish
Place eggs and water to cover in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, 9 minutes. Drain eggs, and rinse with cold water for several minutes. (this can be done 1 day ahead and the hard-boiled eggs kept refrigerated).
Peel eggs, and cut in half lengthwise.
Carefully remove the egg yolks and place in a medium bowl. Add mustard, mayo, yogurt and truffle oil. Use a fork to mash the yolks and combine to a smooth consistency. Use two small spoon to gently scoop the filling back into the whites or place mixture in a pastry bag with a plain or star-shaped tip (or a small zip-top plastic bag with a corner cut out), and pipe mixture into egg halves. Garnish with chives if desired–one chive sliver on each looks nice.
Tri-Colored Fingerling Potatoes
3 pounds multicolored fingerling or new potatoes, cleaned and cut in half the long way
2 tablespoons salt
Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill to cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, add the salt and turn the heat to a simmer. Continue simmering until the potatoes are just fork tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain immediately and let steam, covered with a dishcloth, in a colander until tender, about 15 minutes more. Let cool.
Steamed Green Beans
1-1/2 pounds green beans or haricot verts, stems removed
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Fresh dill for garnish
In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. As the water warms, prepare an ice bath by adding ice cubes and water to a large mixing bowl.
Add the salt to the boiling water then add the beans. Blanch the beans until they turn bright green, about 1-2 minute, then remove them with a slotted spoon to the ice bath. When the beans have cooled, drain and set to air dry on a lined sheet tray before enjoying with salad.
Just before service, toss with the olive oil and season to taste with sea salt. Pile in a serving bowl or platter and top with with fresh chopped dill.
Tomatoes in Olive Vinaigrette
4 pints cherry tomatoes, washed and cut in half
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients through olive oil in a mixing bowl about 20 minutes before service. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve alongside remaining salad ingredients.
Yogurt Herb Dressing
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (we use Fage brand Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup avocado or canola oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1.4 cup chopped fresh chives
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
Fine sea salt
Whisk the first 4 ingredients in small bowl. Add in the herbs and season dressing to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Thin with hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary. Serve immediately.