A nice touch

The chicken or the egg question does not usually bear on salad.  You make a salad, you make the dressing.  It’s the natural order of things.  Sometimes, though, the dressing comes first.  I know a citrus-sesame number that practically chops your cabbage for you and, given the right circumstances, carrots are for Ranch dressing, not the other way around.  Yes, sometimes the dressing inspires the salad.  And sometimes, it becomes one.

This salad, before it was a salad, was a dressing called sauce gribiche.  I first discovered it in The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers, a book I’ve mentioned here before, and though I flagged the recipe with a sticky tab, I forgot about it until Molly reminded me a few years later.  Then, I forgot about it again.  I think I need a sticky tab for my brain.  

Texturally, sauce gribiche is somewhere between a dressing and a dip.  It’s chunky with capers and shallots and bits of chopped egg, but still liquid enough to drizzle.  You start with a soft-boiled egg, mash it together with mustard and salt, then, little by little, whisk in a cup and a quarter of olive oil.  The yolk acts as an emulsifier, which is a fancy way of saying that it gets everything in the bowl to join together in a velvety sauce.  Next come the shallots, the herbs, the capers, the vinegar, the licking of the spoon.  You know how it goes.  

I made sauce gribiche for the first time back in March and I haven’t been able to stop.  The recipe's output is more appropriate to a small batch of soup than to a sauce rich with oil and yolk, but we never seem to have any trouble finding the bottom of the bowl.  In order of appearance, because it turns out I do actually remember things from time to time – weird things, like precisely when I put sauce on food and ate it, but things, nonetheless – I bring you a record of our sauce gribiche consumption since then:  sauce gribiche on broccoli and potatoes (separate bowls), on broccoli and potatoes (one bowl), on brisket (hot), leftover brisket (cold), on a leftover-leftover brisket sandwich (also cold), on asparagus, on artichokes, on lettuce, on salmon, and coming soon, on tomatoes.  I can’t wait.    

I was perfectly content to carry on this way, eating food, putting sauce on it, until one day at the end of April when our friends Eitan and Julia came over for dinner.  (More accurately, they came over for cinnamon rolls, but I thought dinner would be a nice touch.)  Julia is pregnant, and she’s avoiding undercooked – by which I mean perfectly cooked – eggs, so sauce gribiche was out.  But I had mentioned it to her over the phone, just for her information, since I know that an un-pregnant Julia will want to swim in it.  I immediately realized that this was perhaps unnecessarily cruel, and so I offered to make it up to her by coming over to her place in early September with a crusty loaf, a ripe tomato, and a vat of sauce gribiche, and by holding her baby so that she can assemble a proper sandwich and eat it with both hands.  Also, I made her this salad.

It has all the ingredients of sauce gribiche, plus a few of its favorite landing pads, only the egg is kicked out of the dressing, boiled hard, and nestled in among the potatoes and greens.  I keep the capers salad-side, too, scattered and stuck between stalks and leaves, and call the whole thing salad gribiche.  It’s a gribiche you can sink your teeth into, a meal of a gribiche that you eat with a fork and knife.  Exciting times for a spoon-licker like me.  Gribiche by the mouthful.  Dig right in.

Salad gribiche

Inspired by Judy Rodgers’s Four-Minute Egg Gribiche in The Zuni Café Cookbook

When I’m not cooking for cautious pregnant ladies, I only medium boil my eggs, so that the yolks are set, but still fudgy.  The morning that I made the eggs you see here, I forgot about them while they were cooking, so they’re rather well-done.  Still good, nonetheless.  One of the things that’s nice about this salad is that it’s an easy do-ahead meal.  You can steam the broccoli, cook the potatoes (wait to slice them, though), boil and peel the eggs, wash and dry the lettuce, and store everything in the fridge.  Then, when you’re ready to eat, all that’s left to do is assemble.  I like to serve this salad on a large platter, but you could also plate it individually.  I don’t recommend tossing it together in a big bowl, since the hardware (eggs, broccoli, potatoes) are heavy, and you don’t want to bruise the lettuce.  Oh, and the recipe makes more dressing than you need, but I think you’ll be happy to have it around.

For the dressing:
6 tablespoons olive oil (plus a bit more, to taste)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ a large shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, any combination of parsley, chervil, chives, tarragon, and dill

For the salad:
1 head of lettuce (I like to use butter or bibb lettuce.) 
2 pounds baby potatoes of various shades (I love that brilliant purple!)
2 medium heads of broccoli, cut or snapped into florets (I keep 2-3 inches of stalk attached.)
8 eggs, medium- or hard-boiled, peeled
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and dried
Salt flakes
Freshly ground pepper

Make the dressing:
Put all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.  Taste.  If the vinegar's too kicky, you can add another tablespoon or so of oil.

Prepare the salad:
Wash the potatoes, put them in a pot, and cover them with water.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Cook until fork-tender which, depending on the size of your potatoes, will take between 10 and 20 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.  Steam the broccoli until just tender, and set it aside, too.

While the potatoes and broccoli are cooking, wash the lettuce in cold water, spin it dry, then roll it loosely in towels to absorb any remaining droplets of water.

Slice the potatoes and hard boiled eggs in half. 

Gently toss the lettuce in a large bowl with about three tablespoons of the dressing.  (You can use more or less, according to your taste.)  Lay the dressed leaves on a large platter and arrange the eggs, broccoli, and potatoes on top.  Drizzle with more of the dressing, and sprinkle a few flakes of salt on each of the eggs.  Scatter the capers over the plate, and serve with black pepper for grinding.

Serves 4.


Tracy said...

Clever. Both.

Omeletta said...

How have I never heard of sauce gribiche!? This sounds incredible, perfect summertime salad. Cannot wait to try- thank you!

pad thai said...

Looks lovely... gonna try it! ;)

Jess said...

Tracy, Omeletta, pad thai, hello! Thanks for your notes, and happy week to you!

racheleats said...

I too like Sauce Gribiche very much indeed. 'but still fudgy' - such a good way to put it.

Tamar Genger @joyofkosher said...

I am not usually a fan of hard boiled eggs in my salad, but this version changes my mind, I also like the idea of keeping them medium boiled, sounds perfect for Shabbat lunch.

Christina said...

made this for dinner on sunday...really yummy! i've made a version that involved roasting the potatoes and broccoli before, but this is a much better take on the recipe for summer. ate it hot for dinner sunday, but was equally tasty cold for lunch the next day.

Jess said...

So glad you enjoyed, Christina!

Rachel and Tamar, a belated thank you for your notes.

alanachernila said...

Oh, Jess- I'm abandoning everything to make this for lunch. Now. That's what you've done to me.