When I was a kid, my father occasionally had his ‘department’ from work over for dinner. I would dress up like a little waitress and help serve the meal. Even as a child, I knew that really meant a lot to the people who came.
Today socializing with “work friends” on the weekend is a rare treat that I really, truly enjoy. Before pumpkin week started, I invited the work gang and their little ones over for Sunday brunch. I started my prep work the night before after my kiddos were in bed. For this deconstructed Nicoise, I boiled up 1/2 dozen eggs and made the potatoes, and then stored them in the fridge overnight.
I also made my signature dish, caramelized carrots, the night before because they taste just as good at room temp. I did everything, including putting them in the serving bowl, and then just threw the parsley garnish on in the morning.
I shredded the red cabbage and made the dressing for this salad but stored them separately in the fridge overnight.
The next morning my kid and I baked this unbelievably amazing cinnamon pecan swirl coffee cake. (You can totally make this ahead as well – but my kid would have had my head for doing it without him!)
We also made these super tasty (turkey) bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit muffins in the morning.
Then chopped up some fruit, assembled the rest of the items and moved the kitchen chairs to the side, and put everything out on the table with a sweet little orchid in the middle.
Everyone dug right in. (No, I do not only hire women! They’re just smarter and got to the brunch table first!) I’ll be posting most of the recipes this week, starting with the deconstructed Nicoise recipe…
Deconstructed Nicoise Salad Recipe
Prep Time: 20 mins Cooking Time: 15 mins
6 large eggs
2 cans tuna packed in oil
4 heirloom tomatoes (variety of colors)
10 mini Yukon gold potatoes
8 oz French green beans
1/2 cup assorted olives
4 – 6 large leaves of fresh basil
4 – 6 stems of fresh greek oregano
4 – 6 sprigs flat leave parsley
a handful of fresh chives
2 shallots, chopped small
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
fresh cracked pepper & sea salt
Start by hard boiling the eggs using our Perfect Hard Boiled Egg Recipe. When they are done, peel them and cut them in half. Wash the potatoes, place them in a pot and fill with water until all potatoes are submerged. Bring to a boil and let boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low for 20 minutes.
Make sure small bubbles are still rising – it should NOT be all the way at a low simmer. Leave the lid off. Meanwhile, blanch the French green beans, cut the tomatoes into quarters and then in half, drain the tuna and chop all the herbs. Make the dressing by combining olive oil, lemon, shallots, and dijon until emulsified.
After the potatoes have cooked for 20 minutes, check to make sure the potatoes are soft. (They should not be mushy if they are, it’s time to switch recipes and make mashed potatoes instead!) Drain and cover with a dishcloth. Allow potatoes to steam in the cloth until they become cool enough to handle. They will continue cooking a bit in the steam which will make them the perfect consistency.
Get a large platter and start to assemble the salad by grouping each of the main ingredients in rows. Group the eggs together, then the drained tuna, then the French green beans, then the chunks of tomato, and leave room for the potatoes at the end. When the potatoes are done, cut them into quarters and dress the entire salad immediately while the potatoes are still warm. Dot the salad with olives, then sprinkle your fresh garden herbs all over the platter and add salt and pepper to taste. Serves a crowd.
By the way, this awesome deconstructed Nicoise recipe was inspired by my friend Anne’s mom, Barbara, who made something like this for us years ago, and it really stuck with me. Thanks, Babs!
James is the owner of North. After working at Nick’s on Broadway, James moved to Red Fez and put his knowledge to the test with hot dog R&D. He assisted in the launch of Momofuku Ko in NYC In 2008. And a year later, James was part of Christina Tosi’s team for Momofuku Milk Bar as their bread baker.