Welcome the yin and yang of June. My husband and I thread a conversation through the lengthening days, each of us anticipating a summer cruise, each of us picturing ourselves doing our favourite things for three whole weeks. We keep the charts handy and the plotter is never idle for very long. We email Larry, captain of Unforgettable, to ask where we shall meet this year. When, and for how long? Yes, we will tow Love Me Tender, our 15-foot inflatable. They will bring their sailing dinghy. They will join us for one week out of three. So far so good.
It’s when my husband and I compare ideas about the other two weeks that things get dicey. He likes wilderness. I like civilization. No, actually, I love civilization. I want to tie up at Granville Island and he’s dying to anchor out in the Broughtons. I prefer to stay in one place for several days. He says, “That’s not boating, it’s staying.” I want to return to my favourite haunts—Galiano, Todd Inlet, Nanaimo. It’s our opportunity, he points out, to discover new favourite haunts. I would spend days lounging on the deck reading. He’d rather explore grizzly trails at Knight Inlet. Wouldn’t that be fun? Do I think grizzlies are fun? Not even close. I happen to like all four of my limbs. So it goes.
When the conversation gets too complicated, I withdraw to think about menus and list the staples I want to have on board. Here we enter waters of peace and equanimity. He knows it’s against my religion to go anywhere without kalamata olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the galley. Besides that, my husband, bless him, thinks that whatever we catch, no matter how we cook it, will be fabulous.
One of our favourite meals, for either lunch or dinner, is Salade Niçoise. This is a great recipe to keep in mind because you don’t have to have exactly what the recipe calls for, and most ingredients either come in cans or keep well. Only a few have to be fresh—tomatoes, lettuce and beans, which are readily available as long as you are not too far from civilization. My husband grins at me, totally unrepentant for his desire to go to the wilds. Well, even lettuce and tomatoes keep for several days.
This is a perfect cruising recipe, no matter where we go.
“If I catch a ling, can we grill that instead of opening a can of tuna?” he asks.
“Why don’t you just catch what the recipe calls for?”
He grins some more. He knows that at the end of a sunny day, when we are swinging on the hook, the engines quiet, me with a glass of chilled Gewürztraminer in hand, I’ll be mellow enough to put any kind of fish on top of this salad. I just won’t call it Salade Niçoise. The fact is, nothing tastes better than a fish that was swimming a few hours ago. However, if we get skunked, no worries. We’ll open a can of Italian tuna and have the real thing.
Note: A good vinaigrette is essential to this salad. If you have a favourite bottled dressing, and want to give it a try, go ahead. But if you have the ingredients on board, try making your own. I think it’s best with a bit of a bite to it, so I’m fond of adding a little extra mustard.
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar, or
3 tablespoons of either vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard, Dijon preferred
¼ teaspoon salt
20 grinds black pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley, or combination of chervil, parsley, chives, or
2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
½ cup good quality olive oil
1 small squeeze of anchovy paste
½ small shallot, finely minced
For 4 generous salads:
1 head Bibb lettuce, or other leaf lettuce
¼ lb. (125 g) green beans
¼ lb. (125 g) yellow beans
16–20 cherry or grape tomatoes or
yellow and red tomatoes as available
12–16 small red or yellow potatoes, cut to one-bite size
4–6 hard cooked eggs
¼ red onion or sweet white onion, thinly sliced
16 ounces (450 g) canned Italian style tuna in olive oil, or fresh fish
8–12 anchovy filets, drained
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
½ cup niçoise or other preferred olives
All green or all yellow beans
Red or yellow pepper, sliced into thin strips