The classic nicoise salad is here served as individual bundles that are perfect for a summer lunch or starter. It is important that each element of the nicoise is chosen carefully for maximum flavour - especially the eggs which are used not just hard-boiled in the salad but also for the fabulously rich and smooth tarragon mayonnaise that goes with them.
8 leaves of little gem lettuce or treviso radicchio
½ tsp red wine vinegar
8 basil leaves
100g pitted black olives
8 anchovy fillets in oil
For the mayonnaise:
2 egg yolks, at room temp
1 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
½ tsp mustard powder
100ml olive oil
1 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
Hard-boil the 4 eggs and set aside to cool while you make the mayonnaise:
Gently hand-whisk the egg yolks with salt and pepper. Stir in the lemon juice (or vinegar) and the mustard powder. Then hand-whisk in - drop by drop to start with - the oils. As the mayonnaise gets thicker the oils can be added at more of a drizzle pace. Continue until you have a lovely thick, shiny mayonnaise. Check the seasoning and stir through the tarragon.
Peel and quarter the hard-boiled eggs. Wash and dry the lettuce or radicchio leaves - choose ones that have a good ‘boat’ shape. Sprinkle a little red wine vinegar, salt and pepper inside each and line with a basil leaf. Chop the olives and sit the pieces inside the lettuce / radicchio. Sit the quarter of egg inside too and then lay over the top of the egg the whole anchovy fillet. Serve two nicoise bundles per person, with a dollop of mayonnaise alongside.