When I was living in New York I was rarely able to make myself anything very interesting for lunch. On my weekends I liked to take advantage of my time off and get creative with some of the ingredients in my fridge.
Two of the first things I learned how to make in culinary school were a Nicoise salad and mayonnaise. A Nicoise salad always calls for hard boiled eggs, so I decided that whatever I was going to make had to include those. While in school I also learned how to cook vegetables in the a l’étuvée style. I love this method of cooking vegetables! All you have to do is put your vegetables in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough water to come halfway up the vegetables. You then add a pinch of salt and about 1 Tbsp of butter. Cover the saucepan with a parchment paper lid cut to the size of the pan with a small hole in the center. Cook the vegetables over medium heat until they come up to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until all of the liquid evaporates and the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. If you are not a vegetable fan seriously try this cooking method out; I am sure you will be shocked at how much better they taste!
Before I started school I had never made homemade mayonnaise before. The difference in taste compared to the stuff from the supermarket is huge. I also love that once you have mastered making mayonnaise you can add herbs and other flavourings and make many difference sauces for vegetables, sandwiches, and fish.
This salad came together quite quickly and all of the colours really made this salad pop. It is always great to just experiment in the kitchen and try out some of the cooking methods that I learned in school.
Simple Pasta Salad
1 bunch of asparagus, cooked in the a l’étuvée method
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
3 hard boiled eggs
bite size pasta of your choice
salt and freshly grated black pepper
Hard Boiled Eggs
Place eggs in a saucepan and pour in sufficient cold water to cover.
Bring water to boil over high heat and cook for 10-11 minutes.
Drain and place eggs in an ice bath.
Once eggs are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into quarters.
Tip: Use a wet knife to cut the hard boiled eggs, it will glide through more easily.
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
150 g vegetable oil
1 tbsp honey mustard
1 tbsp cold water
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Have all of the ingredients at the same temperature.
Mix together the egg yolk, dijon mustard, salt, and vinegar with a whisk in a stainless steel bowl for 20 seconds.
Begin incorporating the vegetable oil drop by drop, whisking continuously until an emulsion begins to form. Once the emulsion has formed add the rest of the oil in a thin steady stream.
To my mayonnaise I whisked in 1 Tbsp of honey mustard and 1 Tbsp of cold water, as well as a few grinds of fresh black pepper.
Assembly of Salad
Cook your hard boiled eggs and peel and quarter, set aside until you are going to plate the salad.
Make the mayonnaise dressing and keep it in the fridge until you are going to plate the salad.
Cook your favourite bite size pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, toss with mayonnaise dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook your asparagus in the a l’étuvée cooking method, and set aside until you are going to plate your salad.
Put your pasta on the plate and top with the cooked asparagus, hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, and drizzle with mayonnaise dressing.
Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.