Salade Nicoise with Lemon & Olive Dressing

Phew…I don’t know about you, but this summer has been crazy.  We’ve been sprinting about between social events, hosting Sunday suppers, fruitlessly hunting for apartments, and juggling odd work schedules…all while trying to cram in a few beach days and our first trip home to Sea-town in a year.  Writing it all down, I’m realizing that we’ve actually had a good summer, but I haven’t really enjoyed it because there’s been no time to recharge.  Introvert problems…
Going home was bittersweet.  We were hoping to find that our fond memories of the Great Northwest were just the homesickness talking, and that it wasn’t so amazing after all.  Unfortunately(?) that’s not true.  At.  All.

It went something like this: The weather was perfect, everyone welcomed us with open arms, there were gluten-free options everywhere, and my heart was at peace knowing that I was in the same zip code as a Trader Joe’s, douglas firs, and mountains taller than a speed bump.  To make matters worse, we did so many wonderful new things while we were there: went sailing on Lake Union, hiked the Kendall Katwalk portion of the Pacific Crest Trail with my sister & her man friend, visited the SAM to see their exquisitely-curated Future Beauty exhibit…plus the obligatory trip to Pike Place Market, a gorgeous drive up to Bellingham in my little red car, and seeing a friend’s tiny new son.  Great, now I have more reasons why Seattle is better than everywhere else.



And the food!  We ate our way through the week like hungry, hungry caterpillars.  There were cappuccinos at Zoka, burgers on a perfect gluten-free bun at Blue Moon Burgers, espresso in a sherry glass at Slate Coffee, smoked salmon and pesto pizza at Boundary Bay Brewery, gray sea salt caramels at Fran’s, blackberry and lavender Snoqualmie ice creams, Chukar Cherries, and unexpectedly phenomenal espresso at Valhalla Coffee.  My dad also grilled us some coho salmon on a cedar plank, and my mother baked me my own gluten-free zucchini chocolate cake.

Basically, Seattle was so wonderful that it was downright depressing to come “home” to a wall of humidity and ten thousand varieties of disgusting insects.  I was hoping somehow that I would miss Georgia while we were gone, or be glad to come back.  Not really.

Thankfully there is balance in the universe.  Juts like Seattle’s gorgeous summer gives way to nine months of gloom, Savannah’s sticky misery yields to a months-long Indian summer and an early spring.  I can complain about cockroaches all day, but in truth, we have it good in Georgia.  James goes to one of the best design schools in the country, I have a great job where I get to use my brain, Southern charm trumps the Seattle Freeze when it comes to finding people to do life with.

And there’s this blog, too.  I started all this because I really do like to make good food and share it.  With family, with friends, with strangers on the internet, wherever. 

What with the chaos lately I hardly noticed when the traffic meter crested 1,000 pageviews.  I’m sure most of them are generated by bots (hello, bots!), but it’s exciting nonetheless.   So thanks for reading, bots.  There’s definitely more to come.



Salade Nicoise with Lemon & Olive Dressing
Inspired by all the great food we had in Seattle, and because we ate so damned much of it, we're having an unofficial detox week. Also, it is still too hot to turn on the oven. I spotted Heidi's recipe at 101 Cookbooks for gin-marinated olives and had no choice but to make them immediately--best decision I've made in a long time. So, go make those marinated olives, then use the leftover olive brine to make this dressing for a simple salade nicoise. I didn't have any green beans (or haricots verts, si vous preferez) on hand, but definitely add them in if you have some.
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. Dressing:
  2. 3 Tbsp. olive brine
  3. 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  4. zest of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tsp.)
  5. 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  6. 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  7. 1/4 tsp. thyme
  8. 4 juniper berries, ground in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder
  9. pinch of red pepper flakes
  10. salt and pepper, to taste
  11. Salad:
  12. greens of your choice
  13. hard-boiled egg, quartered
  14. capers
  15. white potato, boiled and sliced
  16. green beans, lightly steamed
  17. canned albacore tuna (Sustainable Seas is my favorite, as you always get nice big chunks of fish)
  18. salt & pepper to taste
  1. To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning; set aside.
  2. Compose salad prettily (it's French, after all), and drizzle dressing over the top. Enjoy with a crisp, very cold glass of sauvignon blanc.
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