Cook’s notes: I volunteered to cook for a friend who had surgery recently. She prefers vegan dishes (no animal products), so I went researching and found this salad: Two in one! This versatile recipe yields a large romaine salad for one (lunch) plus a potato salad made without mayonnaise for dinner. I adapted the methods from the Rosemary Potatoes in Microwave recipe to make the potatoes. The salty olives combine so well with the potatoes. If your grocery store doesn’t sell Nicoise olives, use Kalamata olives.
You can also add cucumber slices, avocado, or capers to this salad. If you are not a vegan, you may like to add either canned tuna or grilled chicken to the salad. Hard-boiled eggs are also traditional, but I don’t like the texture, so I omit them (plus, adding them means this is no longer a vegan dish). The mustard dressing is light and delicious.
2 lb bag of baby red skin potatoes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Romaine Salad: Serves one
3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-size squares
15 oz can green beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup cherry tomato halves
5 pitted Kalamata olives
1 to 2 Tablespoons mustard vinaigrette (see below)
2 teaspoons Dijon or spicy brown mustard
4 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
Make the potatoes in the microwave: wash and scrub the potatoes. Pat them dry, and cut them in half. Cut larger potatoes into quarters. Toss with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Place potato cubes in a glass pie plate. Cover with a microwave-safe plate (instead of plastic wrap) and microwave at HIGH for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Leave the skins on.
While the potatoes cook, wash and prepare the remaining vegetables.
Make the dressing: Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to combine.
Make the romaine salad: In a large bowl, combine the romaine lettuce with 1 cup of the potatoes, 1/2 cup of the green beans, 1/2 cup of the red pepper, the cherry tomatoes, and the 5 olives. Drizzle 1 to 2 Tablespoons of the dressing on the romaine lettuce, and stir to coat well. (I put the salad in a 4-cup plastic container, seal the lid, and shake it.)
Make the potato salad: In a second container, combine the remaining potato cubes, diced red bell pepper, and green beans. Drizzle with 1 to 2 Tablespoons of the dressing; stir to coat well.
Menu suggestion: Serve the Nicoise romaine salad with a ciabatta roll and 1/2 cup berries for dessert.
Estimated nutritional values: The romaine salad has 9.8 g fiber and dietary exchanges of 6 vegetable servings.
Source: Adapted from a recipe in the book The Urban Vegan: 250 Simple, Sumptuous Recipes from Street Cart Favorites to Haute Cuisine [Paperback] by Dynise Balcavage. One reviewer called this book “a great vegan cookbook for non-vegans”, and I would agree. She does not berate omnivores, and there are lots of clever ideas and recipes I’m eager to try.