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Nadine's Hot Nicoise

Nicoise has taken such an ignominious battering - but how can throwing a few dull olives, a hard-boiled egg and some dried-up tuna onto some insipid cucumber and underripe tomato ever come up to much?, even with a few (flaccid) green beans plonked on for good measure? So empty, trash and start again.

Well there's no tuna but it's replacement - good, fat juicy seared fillets of field mushrooms - more than makes up for it. The egg is gently coddled and all of a warm tremble. Every ingredient is here to do something, say something. Assemble with subtly controlled abandon.

Serves: 4

For the dressing:
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp English mustard
1 1/4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
300g green beans, topped and tailed
2 large flat open-cap mushrooms, or 3 portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced and brushed with 2 tsp tamari
500g new potatoes, preferable waxy, cut in half
oil for shallow frying
4 large organic free-range eggs
2 Little Gem lettuces
20 pieces semi-dried or roasted tomatoes ? the equivalent of about 6 whole tomatoes
12 oily black olives

Make up the dressing by simply putting all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shaking vigorously. Set aside.
Prepare the beans, mushrooms and potatoes as described, then blanch the green beans in some salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Refresh and set aside. In the same pan, boil the potatoes until cooked. Drain.
Baste the mushrooms lightly in the dressing and add to a hot griddle pan. Cook until lightly charred. It's best to use a heavy cast-iron griddle pan for this. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the green beans, using just a little more of the dressing. Set aside.
Now wipe the pan clean with a piece of kitchen paper and add 2 tbsp oil to it. Saute the potatoes until golden, crisp and tender.
Meanwhile bring the eggs to the boil in a pan of water that starts off cold for exactly 6 minutes from the moment it reaches boiling point. The whites should be completely set but the yolks still runny. Refresh under a cold tap, while you shell very carefully.
Separate, wash and pat dry the lettuce leaves. Line a salad bowl with the leaves. Mix the green beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and potatoes together with the remaining dressing and set upon the lettuce leaves.
Cut the eggs in half and put on top with the black olives. Serve at once.

Prep time: 40 minutes

Source: The Cranks Bible

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