Today’s the day! To me, July 1st is one of the best days of the year for being a classic movie fan. Every July I feel like I’m part of a worldwide birthday party for Olivia de Havilland, who at 103 years young continues to grace fans everywhere with her delightful presence. It’s almost like the Old Hollywood community’s version of Christmas; there’s happiness all around because we’re all so grateful that such a legendary actress is still with us. Perhaps my favorite way of celebrating this very special day each year is by participating in The Olivia de Havilland Blogathon, which is hosted annually by two bloggers who I really admire, Phyllis of Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and Crystal of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. This particular blogathon is extra special to me because the first edition of it also happens to be the very first blogathon that I ever participated in here at Musings of a Classic Film Addict! I couldn’t be more proud to make this my fourth consecutive year of participation, and as long as we continue to celebrate the birth of Olivia de Havilland, my tributes will keep on coming!
So far, my first three entries for this blogathon have all been reviews of different features in Olivia’s filmography. I owe this blogathon for allowing me to watch and write about each of them for the first time, starting with The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), followed by Dodge City (1939), and lastly In This Our Life (1942) this past year. As much as I adore discovering new-to-me Olivia de Havilland films, I thought it would be a great idea to mix things up a bit this year, and I knew exactly how. As many of you may know, two years ago I began a column called Cooking with the Stars on this blog, in which I would share a recipe created or eaten by a classic movie star, recreate it, and review it. This continues to be one of my favorite things to do, but since February, that column has become a monthly column for Classic Movie Hub. I’m so delighted that I’m now a part of the Classic Movie Hub family, but at the same time I realize that many of you might miss me sharing Old Hollywood recipes here as well, so I decided to try something new and bring back something old at the same time by reviewing one of Olivia de Havilland’s recipes for you all!
I’ll take the time now to mention that this won’t be quite the same as Cooking with the Stars, as I won’t be including a biography about the lovely dame whose birthday we’re celebrating. On top of that, Olivia gratefully included a really exceptional serving suggestion to make her salad a full-course meal, so I decided to follow her instructions and go from reviewing one recipe to enjoying a complete Olivia de Havilland dinner!
Olivia de Havilland’s Salade Nicoise
To make the salad dressing:
- 2 tablespoons wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons fine-grade oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (You may use more if desired)
- Few leaves of fresh tarragon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Mix together all the ingredients; blending well.
- Set aside until ready to assemble salad.
To assemble the salad:
- 1 pound fresh small green beans, washed, trimmed, cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1 small red sweet pepper, cleaned, seeded, cut in thin strips
- 1 small green sweet pepper, cleaned, seeded, cut in thin strips
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 2 cans (5-7 ounces each) prime tuna fillet, drained and cut in large chunks
- 3 tomatoes, peeled and quartered
- 12 pitted black olives
- 1 sweet onion, peeled and cut in rings
- 2 hearts of lettuce, crisped and chopped
- 2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered
- Place green beans into a large saucepan of boiling water; cook 5 minutes.
- Drain and plunge beans into ice water; drain and chill.
- Place chilled green beans in a bowl with strips of red and green pepper, cucumber, tuna fillet, tomatoes, olives, onion rings and hearts of lettuce.
- Arrange to form an attractive mixture in salad bowl.
- Drizzle salad dressing over salad and add additional amounts of salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.
Serving suggestions: If desired, salad can be assembled on a decorative glass plate. The additions of small peeled new potatoes and capers make delightful variations of this French classic. Delicious with sourdough bread, chilled white wine, and strawberries lightly dusted with powdered sugar for dessert.
I decided to try this salad recipe without the addition of the new potatoes or capers, but as I mentioned above, I followed Olivia’s serving instructions to the letter by pairing her salad with a small loaf of sourdough bread (which I forgot to include in my pictures), a chilled glass of Chardonnay, and a plate of strawberries dusted with powdered sugar. I’ll come right out and say that her salad was absolutely delicious. I’ve never tried fresh green beans in a salad, but it’s really something to behold, mixing in perfectly with the lettuce and making a perfect green base for the other ingredients. There were plenty of ingredients included in the salad that I didn’t think I would enjoy, such as the cucumber, large pieces of raw onion, and the tuna, but everything worked together perfectly and completely balanced out into one cohesive dish. I notoriously detest cucumbers most of all, but here I am still eating the leftovers of Olivia’s Salade Nicioise as I write and munching on the cucumbers happily! It’s a revelation! What’s even better, Olivia’s ideal dinner plan completely elevated this dish and made it a full experience.
As I watched Captain Blood (1935), quite possibly my most beloved Olivia de Havilland film, while sipping Chardonnay, enjoying this salad, bread, and delightfully sweet strawberries, I truly felt like Olivia and imagined how happy she must be in Paris enjoying French delicacies like these. If I had any complaints at all, I would say that I’m not a very big fan of the dressing that goes along with this salad. There just isn’t enough flavor, and essentially just tastes like olive oil. I’m a much bigger fan of ranch dressing, so I have to admit that I’ve tried, and now prefer, her salad with ranch. In addition, my other issue with this recipe is the gigantic portion that it makes. While Olivia states that the recipe serves four, it would really be more suitable for six to eight people. I had no bowl large enough to toss the salad in, so I had to whip out the largest pot I own just to mix it. That’s how enormous it was!
When it came time to pack away the leftovers, this salad filled three of my largest tupperware containers, even after I had already eaten a serving! I feel like this is especially important to note due to the number of fresh ingredients that this recipe contains, so if you’re going to be the only one eating this salad as I was, you may want to cut this recipe in half or maybe even in thirds. All in all, this is still an absolutely wonderful recipe, perfect for dinner parties or any time you want to eat healthy and have plenty of extra salad to bring with you for lunches. I would say that this is not only one of the best classic movie star salad recipes I’ve tried, but truly one of the best salad recipes I’ve tried, period! I also couldn’t recommend her serving suggestions enough, so if you’re able to, definitely pair Olivia’s Salade Nicoise with your best sourdough bread, chilled white wine, and lightly dusted strawberries! I give this recipe four out of five Olivias, and encourage you all to try it for a fantastic meal in honor of a fantastic lady!