Composed Salad – Salad Nicoise

Spike teaches you the principles behind a composed salad and will demonstrate with a classic Salad Nicoise. Learn the technique and principles with this great recipe.

Spike Mendelsohn teaches you the principles behind a composed salad and will demonstrate with a classic Salad Nicoise. Learn the technique and principles with this great recipe.

Read the transcript of this video
[MUSIC] Hi, welcome to Top Chief University. I am Spike from Top Chief Chicago. Our second course is all about the foundation of cooking and this is your next lesson. We're composing a masterpiece, a salad. Something that we see a lot in classic French cooking is the composed salad. In this case we're gonna teach you how to make the salade nicoise, as sure fire way to dress up Any plate of drab lettuce, so let's get started. A composed salad is simply one that artfully arranges it's simple ingredients rather than just tossing them together. A classic version of this salad is the [UNKNOWN]. So let me show you what basically a [UNKNOWN] is, there's some key components of a [UNKNOWN] salad. First the potatoes. The haricots verts, or green beans if you will, Roma tomatoes, some olives, some boiled eggs, a little bit of onion, a really great basic red wine vinegar, which you should know how to make by now, and of course, This sushi grade beautiful tuna right over here. We're using sushi grade because we're really just gonna season this up and sear it really lightly and quickly and keep it kind of raw in the middle and slice it and we want the best quality of tuna for this so we'll be using this beautiful tuna, but like a great chef and the top chef that you are we're going to work in order. So the potatoes take the longest to cook. Maybe about 15 minutes, so we're gonna put those in the pot of boiling water here. Make sure you salt your water. Pretty much salted water, you wanna taste the ocean. The second thing you probably wanna do is get your eggs going in and a little trick is, why have so many pots of water going? You can just do your eggs in the same pot as the potatoes. So we're just gonna drop those there. Do them lightly, cuz you really don't want to break them. So a little trick is just kind of lean them against the potatoes, let them just float to the bottom. There we go. So we got our potatoes and our eggs here. The potatoes about 15 minutes, the eggs about seven. You don't really wanna overcook those. All right. So my favorite technique of making vinaigrettes like I showed you before is out of a mason jar. So we're gonna use that three to one ratio that we taught you a little earlier. About maybe a half a tablespoon of Dijon mustard [FOREIGN] We're gonna use sweet and [UNKNOWN] a little bit, so maybe about a tablespoon of sugar, two cloves of crushed garlic, oh yeah, nothing like garlic in the morning. All right, so there we go and then we don't have a measuring cup today so you know what a really great way to doing this is? Just pick an area on the mason jar. I'm going to go right about over here. About a fourth of the way up, you're just going to eye it out. And then we'll just make sure we fill it up with oil enough that it's triple the amount of vinegar that we put in. So we're just going to eye this out. Everything should be okay. And then you know what, I think we're gonna add a little bit more herbs to this. Maybe some thyme, a little bit of red onion, be ready to go, there we go. I think that's pretty much it. What do you say? I think that's pretty much right on point. Of course we have to season our food. So a nice little hefty pinch of salt, a little bit of cracked black pepper. [BLANK_AUDIO] Now I'm just going to put a big huge thing of herbs in there. And of course, I'm gonna take some of this lemon rind. [BLANK_AUDIO] I'm gonna aggravate it a little bit just by scraping it like so, right here. [NOISE] You can smell that lemon. It's delicious. And we're gonna cap it off And give it a nice little shake, right? So you've got your potatoes going, you have your eggs. You're very organized, you're really organized now. We gotta shake this vinaigrette all up. There we go. Look how emulsified that is. It looks beautiful. I'm just gonna put these bowls over here. There we go, perfect. So next I think we're going to blanch these beautiful haricot vert or green beans as we like to call them. But first we're going to take the tips off. So, you know, a great way of doing this lining them up. In a french kitchen they'd tell you that you have to pick all of these by hand. But you know what, we're not in a french kitchen, we are in the top chef kitchen. Just take them off just like that, why not, right? Make our job a little bit easier. LIne the rest of these up, beautiful. You know, an [FOREIGN] is from the South of France. It originated in Nice where there's a lot of Italian influence on the. On the cuisine over there and that's probably why they call it like a niswa salad. It's got the Roma tomatoes in it, it's got the calamata olives, so I think you know it was reported that Julia Childs is the first one to really bring the niswas to the United States so Julia thank you for bringing that beautiful salad, that beautiful composed salad To the steaks. So we're gonna just trim those off right there. And you know? The think I love most about compote salad is that you really let the ingredients speak for themselves. You're not masking them with a huge vinaigrette. You're not just tossing it all up into a big huger mess. You're really paying tribute to each individual ingredient and you're composing it so beautifully on a plate so it really tastes delicious. So, a couple things about blanching, you want the water to be boiling and salted very well and you also want to be preparing an ice water bath. So, we have our ice water bath way over here, we're going to add a little bit of salt to that to because there's a little trick here. The salt washes out into the water here an you kind of want to re-season them in the water bath. So, We're gonna get this to the boiling point. There we go, it's perfect. And pretty much until they float, or turn really, really, green, is when they're ready. Okay, so now we're gonna take these beautiful tomatoes, and you know what the thing is? Is I love these ingredients, and I want them to really pop on the plate. So we're gonna leave these Pretty into like big bites. We're not going to cut them up small. Just going to quarter them. So make sure you use a sharp knife of course and we're just going to go like that nice, beautiful chunks of tomato. Beautiful. [BLANK_AUDIO] We'll take this little part out because we don't wanna eat that. [BLANK_AUDIO] And here we go. Beautiful, beautiful. This tomatoes are beautifully ripe. Great. Look at the beautiful colors we're ever starting to built. Right, so I think we're almost ready to take these out, they're floating, it doesn't take much long, and you wanna keep a little bite to them. You don't wanna over cook them either, so look at these beautifully green [FOREIGN] and we're gonna shock those. And the thing about shocking is you just kinda wanna put them in the bath, but you don't wanna leave them in there because water Really kills the nutrients in the vegetables. So we just wanna cool them back down so they're not really overcooking. Really keeps them really nice, bright and fresh looking, which we want in our compote salad. So, just gonna fish those out and we're gonna reserve this shocking process over here for the potatoes and the eggs Cuz we want to do the same with that. Beautiful, so we're just gonna get in there, get all the rest of these. And they're kinda big, so I think I wanna fabricate them into a little bit of a smaller, bite size pieces. So what we'll do is we'll line them up just like this, beautiful. And we'll just give them one cut right down the middle. There we go. Beautiful, that's exactly what we want right there. Beautifully, healthy, green perfect texture. Let's taste one, why not. [SOUND] Great little bite. Okay. So let's clean up, cuz part of being a Top Chef is working really neatly on your station. And, we're gonna go ahead and shave this onion. The point of this is I really wanna keep it really thin, not to have too much of a bite. [MUSIC] We might not use all of it because we don't want it to really overpower the dish. But we have it ready just in case we need some. There we go, beautiful. All right, so I think we're almost ready to pull out our eggs. I think they've been cooking for about eight minutes. And the things with eggs is you really don't want to over cook those either because they start to turn dark inside and we don't want that. We're keeping this real bright, pretty, seasonal salad and we want everything to be perfect. We're really paying tribute to our ingredients here and we're watching them really carefully. All right so as I mentioned early we got this Beautiful sushi grade tuna that we're gonna cook medium rare. So we're just gonna take it, and I wanna make it, I wanna beautify it a little bit. So I'm just gonna cut it into a nice little block. And you can save this to make a tartar or to make a rustic [UNKNOWN], maybe, the next day. Well, here we go. We're just gonna cut it into a beautiful block. And you know, a really great substitute for this, if you don't wanna use raw sushi grade tuna, is you can find the tuna at the store that's canned in olive oil, which is just equally as delicious, maybe just a little easier to work with. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna take this tuna and we're gonna season it, And what I love doing is I love seeing fish over the sink, because I love to get the seasoning all over and it gets really messy. I just want to make sure I coat the whole thing with lots of seasoning, so there we go. Because we're not permeating through the center of the skin, so we gotta make sure the outside's seasoned really nicely. There we go. Make sure to wash your hands. [SOUND] Give a little wipe up. All right, so we're on our way to making the most delicious [UNKNOWN] salad you've ever had, or maybe the only one you've ever had. But nevertheless, it's gonna be just delicious. Okay. So we have this grill pan here. And we're just gonna turn up the heat a little bit. And we're gonna add a little, just gonna lightly coat with olive oil. We don't want to do too much. There we go. Just get it really nice And coated, and perfect. So, we are almost there! We got our beautiful olives. We have our beautiful haricot verts, these beautiful tomatoes, the red onions. Let's give that another shake, why not? It's just sitting there. And next up, we're going to take these eggs out. And we are going to peel them. So about three eggs for this salad. My favorite little thing is take a little spoon—just go all around. It's best to peel these right after you shock them. There we go. ANd while we're peeling this we're just going to let this heat up and we kind of want it at a high heat because we're going to give this a really quick, quick sear on all four sides. We really don't want to cook the middle of the sushi grade tuna. [SOUND] So you're going to pour over the sink. [MUSIC] All right so we've got all our eggs peeled. And if you have an egg cutter, one of those cool little egg cutters that you just close it down and it gives you those perfect little rounds, you can use that. But we don't have that today and I really want to keep this nicoise salad really rustic, so we're gonna do what we did with the tomatoes, we're going to just cut right down the middle. Look at that, beautiful. No browning. That's a gorgeous egg, right there! [BLANK_AUDIO] All right. So, we'll put that in the bowl, reserve that for the assembly. Gonna wipe up and I think we are almost close to being able to sear our tuna. Yeah. I think that we're ready, so here we go. We're going to want to cook this on all six sides or try to without overcooking it, so let's give it a go. There we go. So while that's sitting there, I think our potatoes are almost ready. They've been cooking for about, I don't know, maybe around 15 minutes. A great way to check them for tenderness is with a little bit of a paring knife, but on my way to the potatoes, we see it's time to turn this tuna around. So, we're gonna do that. And there you go. [UNKNOWN] the paring knife it goes right through and slides right off. THese potatoes are perfectly cooked and ready to be shocked to stop that cooking process because we don't want to overcook potatoes. So here we go. We're going to take these out. These are really, really big ones. I'm not sure we're going to make it to using all three of these, but We always have extra, it never really matters. So there we go, we're gonna shock those. We're going to turn our heat off because we don't need to waste energy, we don't need all this heat anymore. I think it's time to twist that, look at that. You can see already how you're just cooking the outer layer of this tuna. That's just going to be delicious, it's going to be perfect. It's exactly what this tuna wants. It doesn't want to be overcooked. It wants to really have that raw flavor inside. So we've got that going. We can move this. And we can start taking our potatoes. So I think we're gonna try to cut large dices of these potatoes. So I'm gonna come across here. Across there. Just taking some of the skin off. And again, that tuna you really gotta babysit it because you don't wanna overcook it. So we're just gonna flip it to that side. [BLANK_AUDIO] Now we're just gonna take this edge off and this edge off. And really I'm gonna just come down Center. You're just gonna have these beautiful large cubes of potato. [BLANK_AUDIO] There you go, some of it has the peel on some of it doesn't, that's great, exactly what we're looking for. And I think that tuna's almost ready, we're just gonna hit it really quickly on both sides. [NOISE] I'm gonna get everything really organized here. All our ingredients are really coming together here. Beautiful. Tuna is almost ready. Let's flip that baby one more time. There you go! And you know what? I think we're going to use one more potato. Just gonna cut the sides off, I'm just squaring it all off to make these beautiful pieces. I think this is ready, so what we're gonna do is we're gonna get a little paper towel to drain all the excess oil, and just let it rest. Beautiful, that's a beautiful piece of tuna right there. Okay, so we're just gonna cut this potato like we did the other. [BLANK_AUDIO] There we go. Just nice little, great cubes. Gives some texture to the salad. There we go, we're gonna go one more down. And it's usually easier to wait till the potato's completely cooled. But, we're a little, we wanna show you how to make this, so We're taking a little bit of shortcuts here. So one thing about nicoise salad, that everything is really composed like we've been talking about. And nothing gets really tossed around in a [UNKNOWN] dressing. So what I like to do is I like to dress everything with a little bit of olive oil before we assemble. So we'll dress the [UNKNOWN]. Do this also tomatoes, a little bit of the red onion. The olives we really don't need to do. Okay, so we're ready for our plate. Here we go. We got this beautiful plate. And now what we're gonna do is we're gonna taste our vinaigrette, cuz we haven't done that yet. I just wanna make sure it's where we want it to be. [BLANK_AUDIO] [SOUND] That's great. You know that sugar that we added in there? That's really, really making this vinaigrette pop, and it's really well balanced, and it's happening. So, this is actually perfect. No more seasoning, no more salt Nada, we hit this one on the first try. So many people dress their greens in a salad and what happens is acid kills salad especially delicate greens, hence these leaves. So what we're gonna do here is I always tell people to dress the bowl and then lightly toss everything. At the bottom. So, what we're going to do is just kind of fold it really delicately. See? Just like that. So then it evenly coats everything and we're ready to go. We're going to add a little salt. You always want to dress first because if you dress the salad without any oil, it's just going to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Little bit of pepper. And that's it we're gonna [BLANK_AUDIO] Give it a nice [BLANK_AUDIO] Oh there we go. try to get it nice and high. Because then everything else is going to go round it. [BLANK_AUDIO] Beautiful. And I mean there's a couple different ways of plating. Today I feel it's really composed and we can go a couple ways. We can kinda spread everything apart and let everything speak for itself, or we can just arrange ingredients all the way across. But you know what? I love decorating, so we're just gonna go around a little bit. First I'm gonna start with the shaved onions, just a little bit of shaved onions that we dress. Oh, there we go. You don't need all of them. We have them there, but we don't need to use everything. Then I'm gonna go with the olives. Just get those around the plate, just real rusticy. There we go. The [UNKNOWN], we're gonna toss those. Of course, you know what, we're gonna season them too a little bit. Pulling out all that flavor out of those ingredients, just give it a little light toss. [BLANK_AUDIO] There we go, get some underneath there, why not. [BLANK_AUDIO] Beautiful. [BLANK_AUDIO] Okay. Now we're just gonna place these eggs that we covered with a little bit of olive oil. I think we're gonna try to make it All around. And we just wanna leave a little room here for the middle, cuz I think this is the focal point, and this is where the tuna's gonna be cut really nicely, and we're gonna layer that across. So, again, we have to salt these eggs, cuz we're seasoning everything. And this is what a composed salad is. It's really, really well thought out, you've really taken the time to plate and make everything look beautiful. And classic. A little bit of pepper, there we go. It's going to be worth all this hard work I promise. It's going to be worth it. So now we're going to grab these tomatoes. This is going to give it some really, really beautiful color to the dish. Look at that. Nice this is great. Put some in the front here. Again, we're gonna have to season these up a little bit. Oh man this is gonna be delicious. And here now, [FOREIGN], the potatoes. There we go. Get that all across. Maybe I'll finish up with a couple more tomatoes, and you know what, why not some more olives, I love olives. Look at that, that's looking beautiful. And you know what we're just missing the star of the plate. Let's move all this out of the way. [BLANK_AUDIO] So we can cut our tuna. There we go. You guys got that? Cool. So we're going to take these ends off and save those for snacks. You just want to really cut this beautiful tuna, really let the knife do the work. Just slicing through. Gotta be really, really delicate. Look at that, look at that beautiful pinkness that we got there. Again, if you don't like tuna so rare, you can cook it a little bit more, but I really recommend trying it like this first, because it's really, really delicious, and you don't wanna end up with a dried piece of tuna. There we go, we're gonna save that piece for later. [BLANK_AUDIO] And look at this. Oh my God. I gave myself like a little bit of leverage here. I gave myself some tomatoes and some potatoes just to put the salad on. Just gonna put that. Let that. Look at how beautiful that looks. All right. And you know what? Why not? Some fresh herbs. Go a long way. So put some parsley here. Bring back some of the earthiness, some of that freshness. Beautiful. Now, just a little bit of olive oil. You've gotta season the inside of that tuna. Little bit of salt, of course. Now, the final kicker. The dressing, that beautiful red wine vinegar dressing, just to give it all that pop, all that flavor. Just put it around. I am ready to eat. So whether you're composing a symphony or a salad, what you're looking to achieve is harmony. Delicious, delicious harmony. In the next lesson, more salad. But this one is getting the chop. [MUSIC]
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Composed Salad – Salad Nicoise


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