Last night, I cooked for the first time in my kitchen in almost 2 weeks! One of the first things I wanted to make, after feasting on fresh baguettes, wine, and chocolate bars for so many days, were salads. I’ve always loved French style salads like carottes râpées (grated carrots) and salade de choux (their version of coleslaw) but this trip really made me vow to explore these recipes more. At a lot of cafes or traiteurs (delicatessens) you will find these type of salads, and each place makes a slightly different version (but of course). The basic principles, however, seem to be:
1. Often, these salads are meant to get better as they sit in ample vinaigrette, their flavors mingling together most freely. The vegetables therefore tend to be hardier and grated. (Sometimes even salade Niçoise is made without lettuce.)
2. Fewer vegetables are used in one salad than in America. (No throwing in baked tofu, roasted bell peppers, chickpeas, etc etc all in one bowl).
3. Oil is used liberally in the vinaigrette, which elevates the salad to greater heights. (Because of oil : vinegar ratio, obvi).
4. In general, at least one fresh herb is added.
I picked up a cabbage for salade de choux but it was just so cold and rainy today for that. Instead, I made a warm potato salad with mustard seed, shallot, and dill vinaigrette, with broccoli and tempeh. (Because obviously, French people don’t eat tempeh but I really need the protein…plus they make amazing soy products in France). It’s simple but incredibly delicious, wholesome and warming!
French Potato Salad with Tempeh
1/2 package tempeh, in 1/8″ thick strips
about 10-12 small boiling potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered (I used a mix of red and yellow)
1 medium head broccoli or cauliflower, sliced very thinly length-wise
1/2 tsp yellow or brown mustard seed (or 1 tsp Dijon mustard with seeds)
1 tbsp white wine
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, sliced very thinly cross-wise
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and fresh black pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill (plus more, to taste)
1.5 tsp liquid sweetener of your choice
1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add potatoes and cook until easily pierced with a fork, or about 5 minutes. In the meantime, lightly pan fry the tempeh slices on both sides until golden brown. Set aside.
2. Place thinly sliced broccoli in the colander and pour the pot of boiling potatoes directly into it. Voila, now you have blanched the broccoli and drained the potatoes at the same time! Transfer to a large bowl and add white wine and 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Toss to combine and let sit.
3. In the saute pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Add shallots and cook for a minute or two until translucent. Add mustard seeds and turmeric powder and cook, stirring, until you see the seeds pop–not very long. Transfer to a small bowl. (If using Dijon mustard, just add it at this stage).
4. Add vinegar, sweetener, salt and pepper to the shallot bowl and whisk together with a fork. Add to the potatoes. Add fresh chopped dill, and gently toss to combine. You could also add tempeh into the bowl and mix together, or you can serve the tempeh on top of the salad. Serve warm or room temperature–it’s good both ways. Bon appetit!
More healthy recipes: Nourishing Broccolini and Quinoa Salad
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling