Serious Eats: Recipes

Healthy & Delicious: Niçoise Pasta Salad

"Canned tuna will keep costs down, but if you have fresh lying around, bring it on. "

[Photograph: Kristen Swensson]

I went to college in a small western New York town where snowfall started in October and lasted clear through April. We needed two feet of the white stuff to qualify for class cancellation, and my freshman year, it flurried on Mother's Day. During those frigid, snowy months, I begged for any sign that warmth and sunlight might be not be an eternity away.

In its way, Niçoise Pasta Salad is a harbinger of spring. Served cold, the dish recalls outdoor picnics and backyard barbecues. It would be equally at home in a porcelain dish or a paper plate, placed on a dining room table or beside a kiddie pool. (Meaning: it's classy, but versatile.)

A good helping of string beans and cherry tomatoes evoke a more temperate season, while a smattering of olives and capers creates a pleasant brininess. Tuna provides the protein, though the inclusion of a few hardboiled eggs would both add nutritional value and complete the Niçoise theme.

You might be stuck buying out-of-season tomatoes, but frozen green beans, quickly boiled and doused with cold water, work beautifully here. I used a generic brand, and they still turned out crisp and light. Canned tuna will keep costs down, but if you have fresh lying around, bring it on.

If Punxsutawney Phil was any indication, there are still two weeks of winter left to go. That's OK. Bring on Snowmageddon or Snowpocalypse or whatever. I'll be curled on my couch scarfing pasta salad, dreaming of warmer days.

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