Every morning for the last 9 months my iPhone alarm clock has gone off before 6am with THESIS!!! in big bold letters across the screen. I tried out a few other variations, like GET UP AND WORK ON YOUR THESIS!!! or GET OUT OF BED YOU’VE GOT WORK TO DO!!! but THESIS!!! seemed simple and effective, so it stayed.
On Wednesday I submitted my thesis. On Thursday I woke up without an alarm and, after a cup of tea, went for a leisurely swim with my husband. And when Paul got out of the pool I decided to stay behind and swim a while longer, because the sun was shining, and because the 50m outdoor pool was gloriously quiet, and just because I could.
What a feeling.
It’s not quite over – I still have a defense to get through next week – but it almost is. Yesterday I met with some of my classmates for an informal ‘we’re almost there’ celebration after the thesis deadline had rolled by. It was mostly rosé and pretzels, cause we’re all pretty much running on empty right now, but a lovely time was had even if the offerings were sparse.
Had I been a little more organized I would have brought something like this Nouveau Niçoise salad. Hopefully this fish-free version won’t offend the good people of Nice too deeply – my sincerest apologies if it does. I know that two decades of vegetarianism has probably biased me in this direction, but I think that the Nouveau Niçoise is a fine offering. It’s substantial yet light, fresh, and a lovely way to enjoy the season’s new potatoes.
The beauty of this simple salad is that each of the components, from the steamed potatoes and green beans to the not-quite-hard-boiled eggs and the punchy vinaigrette, can be prepared ahead of time. If you had everything washed, steamed, chopped, and whisked in advance, you could walk in the door on a weeknight and have your Nouveau Niçoise assembled in a matter of minutes.
I’d even go as far as to say that if you wanted to pack this for lunch a few days in a row as opposed to a one-stop chop kind of deal, you could divide the prepared ingredients between a few containers, tucking an un-shelled egg and a tiny container of vinaigrette alongside each one. However you enjoy it, I hope that you do, and let me know how it goes.
One year ago: Nope.
Two years ago: Stewed Rhubarb with Vanilla Bean
Three years ago: Nothing!
Nouveau Niçoise Recipe:
If you’re serving a crowd, double the recipe and arrange this salad on a big platter that people can serve themselves from. As I mentioned in the body of this post, it also packs well for lunches.
Recipe adapted from River Cottage Veg. Serves 4.
500g new potatoes
200g green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
4 large eggs, just shy of hard boiled
3 little gem lettuces, or about 4 cups of similar lettuce, washed and dried
1/2 cup mixed green and black olives (or whatever your favourite is)
12 large basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper
1 small clove garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp water (optional)
Wash the potatoes and chop them into bite sized pieces of roughly the same size. Place them into a medium pot, cover with cold water, and a pinch of salt, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are just barely tender.
When the potatoes are just about done, toss the beans into the pot so they get a quick cook. Drain the potatoes and beans in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside to drain and cool.
While the potatoes are cooking you can hard boil your eggs. I like to use this technique. For this recipe I like the eggs just slightly under done, so I’d stop at the 8 minute mark rather than 10. Run the eggs under cold water to stop cooking, then peel and quarter them.
To make the vinaigrette, combine the crushed garlic, olive oil, cider vinegar, mustard, and sugar in a small jar and shake, shake, shake it up. If you find it to be on the thick side (I do) add 1-2 Tbsp of water to thin it out.
Arrange the lettuce, potatoes, beans, and eggs on a platter or on individual plates. Scatter some olives and torn basil leaves over the top. Drizzle the dressing over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.
Potato, poh-tah-toe! However you say it, potatoes are a great source of vitamin B6, which does all kinds of important things, like building new cells in your body. B6 is also needed for the creation of amines, like serotonin, melatonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine that help to regulate mood, sleep, and stress, respectively. Diets rich in vitamin B6 are attributed to lower rates of heart disease. Also, B6 is vital for the breakdown of gylcogen – the form in which sugar is stored in our body – into usable energy.
Potatoes are also a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorous, niacin, and dietary fiber. But! Most of the fiber content is in the skin of the potato, so leave the skin on for all of the important benefits of ingesting fiber. Good to know – potatoes are a member of the nightshade family (along with tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplants), which some people have adverse reactions to. It’s also worth noting that potatoes are on the ‘dirty dozen’ list of foods to buy organic whenever possible.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014