Here is the perfect all-occasion, all-comers, all-weather seafood and salad platter. While its origins allude to a French salade nioise it has taken on different forms, dependent on available produce and the whims of the cook. This most famous dish of the beautiful Mediterranean town of Nice consists simply of chunks of tuna, good olives, fine slices of onion, a wedge or two of tomato and a garlicky vinaigrette style dressing. You might also find green beans and pieces of hard-boiled egg.
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When in party food mode the design takes on a more extravagant style, designed to impress as well as to nurture deliciously. Instead of the tuna, succulent chunks of grilled salmon and prawns rub shoulders with new season’s waxy potatoes, green beans, the last of the asparagus, tomatoes, Ligurian olives (the tastiest) and hard- boiled eggs. A luscious homemade lemon mayonnaise brings together all the flavours.

You can take a fair bit of the heat out of the kitchen by preparing several components ahead. The mayonnaise will keep for a couple of days refrigerated. The potatoes can be scrubbed and boiled well ahead. They keep best if you cut them into quarters and dress with a splash of vinegar, salt and pepper and drizzle of olive oil. Prepared in this way they don’t discolour in the fridge. The beans and asparagus can also be lightly blanched, refreshed in cold water, dried and stored in the fridge. Cook the prawns and eggs too the day before or on the morning of your event.

Closer to serving time all you need to do is take the vegetables from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature while you grill the salmon and chop the tomatoes and eggs. Cool as a cucumber you can lavish your attention and energy on creating a beautiful composition of all the ingredients.

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