The highlight of the Merrill Lynch Hunter Jumper Classic is always Grand Prix day, when old friends gather in the box section to share a meal and catch up on all of the years happenings! Everyone brings a dish to share, and this year I decided to bring a chilled Nicoise salad.
A Nicoise salad is usually made with very good canned tuna, the kind from Italy canned in olive oil or chilled lump crabmeat. Given the heat of the day , I decided to use chicken and the results were really good. I was so flattered because everyone loved it and asked for the recipe! It's really so easy, and takes about 5 minutes to put together!
The main ingredients are:
Chicken breasts that you have roled in mayonnaise (Helmanns!) and then dipped into a mixture of onion powder, parmesan cheese and Italian bread crumbs. Bake them at 350 for about 40 minutes and let them chill overnight , then thinly slice.
Fresh Haricot Vert ( skinny French green beans!)that you have blanched, chilled well and tossed in a mixture of good olive oil, sun dried or roasted tomatoes, freshly minced garlic and pine nuts.
Quartered Redskin potatoes that you have roasted with some olive oil, paprika, salt , pepper and rosemary and chilled overnight!
Fresh (the kind in brine) Feta Cheese
Pitted Kalamata olives
Hard boiled egg quartered lengthwise
Really fresh romaine and raddichio lettuces!
Pine nuts for garnish
Now for the easy part!
Find a pretty platter (not silver or metal because of the reaction with the egg and vinegar!) and spread out the lettuce. After this, it's up to you to be the artist! You can layer the ingredients, make lovely vertical patterns with them, whatever you fancy! This salad also is a very pretty plated first course! Just do the arranging on smaller plates!
The dressing can be any really good garlic vinegrette, either bottled or homemade, but the special word here is GARLIC!
This salad should be lightly dressed, and your guests can always add more to taste!
If you can't find Garlic Expressions! salad dressing, it's very easy to make your own. Some olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, champagne vinegar and LOTS of freshly minced garlic whisked together to your taste should do the trick!