Cheering the Hell Up, Day 06: Coffee and Tuna Nicoise!

tuna Sometimes you eat the bear; sometimes you meet him at Starbucks and you both get to eat (or at least have a beverage).

Yes, the communicatrix finally met internet giant Citizen of the Month, the one, the only Neilochka! For me, it harkened back ye old days of online dating, only we are both involved with other people and this wasn't a date. But the strange, I-sort-of-know-you-but-I-sort-of-don't feeling was the same.

Given that we're both enormous dorks, you'd think we'd talk about...oh, I don't know, dorky stuff, and maybe gossip about our readers (okay, his, since there are only five of you here and that's hardly enough for a conversation). But mainly, we ended up talking about food, my wacko diet, the delicious rolls at a particular bakery in the Farmer's Market that Neilochka had arrived early to consume so as not to torture me, why factory farming is evil.

We also talked about cooking and learning how to eat properly which, unless you're a ga-jillionaire, involves cooking. Being a straight man, Neilochka never learned to cook; being a man-like straight woman whose mother hated cooking, neither did the communicatrix, at least, not until she was 31, jobless and married to a different straight man who also didn't know how to cook.

Sadly, I can't really teach anyone how to cook; all I can do is make lame-ish suggestions based on my own experience. And in my experience, it's helpful to start out with a few VERY simple recipes (i.e., not stuff from The Silver Palate) and branch out from there as you gain confidence with handling food and understanding which flavors go well together.

Today's non-lession was inspired by the tube of anchovy paste I picked up at the French grocery store in the Farmer's Market. Generally, anchovies, sliced, dressed fishies, are a component of a delicious French salad, Nicoise (which just means "in the style of Nice", which is where there are a lot of goddam fish). For most of us, anchovies are just a punchline involving pizza and truly, truly disgusting, but they do have a nice, salty, robust flavor that adds a certain I-don't-know-what (translation: je ne sais quoi) to a dish. And anchovy paste, which removes all recognizable traces of the fish it came from except for the picture on the box, is a great way to add zip without triggering the gag reflex.

Nicoise also usually involves boiled and cooled, skinned (or not) red potatoes. These are not SCD-legal so I skip them now, but if you like, go ahead and boil yourself a batch of the baby ones (they scream as you drop them in the water) and halve or quarter them to add once cooled.

SALAD NICOISE (adapted for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet)

1 can water-packed, solid albacore tuna 2 hard-boiled eggs 2 cups haricot verts* 2 tablespoons capers 10-15 Kalamata olives (optional) 10-15 cherry tomatoes (optional) 2 cups lettuce, washed and torn up (I like spicy mixed baby greens)


3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/4" squirt anchovy paste (totally optional)

Steam the haricots verts in a little water on the stove until just tender-crisp (not wiggly!) and let cool.

While the beans are cooling, chop the eggs into 1/2" sized pieces. (Don't worry, they don't need to be perfect.) Drain the tuna well. If you're using them, pit and cut the olives into quarters and halve the cherry tomatoes.

Arrange the lettuce in a wide, shallow bowl or on individual plates (this recipe makes about two servings for piggy me). Layer the cooled beans on top of the lettuce, then flake the tuna from the can with a fork on top of the beans. Strew the chopped egg and capers and olive pieces on top of the tuna, in that order (looks best!). Arrange the cherry tomatoes on the side of the dish.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a little bowl with a fork. Pour the dressing on the salad and eat!

See, Neilochka? Even you could make this delicious, healthy salad as easy as un, deux, trois!

xxx c

*long, skinny, French green beans. Trader Joe's sells them bagged and frozen; you can find them fresh at some markets. You could substitute regular green beans in a pinch, but the haricots verts are soooooo much better you shouldn't judge the recipe till you've tried them.

Photo by bzibble via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license