Through searing, potent pieces such as The Dinner Party and her smoke sculpture series, American artist Judy Chicago has examined, reimagined and rewritten the role of women in the history of art, confronting patriarchal systems with a fearless zest.

Her chosen dish, selected for its simple genius, is a Niçoise salad, with a recipe attributed to Jennifer James, who co-owns Albuquerque restaurant Frenchish with Nelle Bauer. ‘Until the pandemic, we regularly celebrated our wedding anniversary with the festive New Year’s Eve dinners that Jennifer cooked up at Frenchish. And in 2020 – our 35th – Jennifer and Nelle personally delivered our feast to us at home.’ When composing the salad, ingredients should be seasonal, in their prime, and ‘at the whim of mother nature’. 

Photographed by Chicago’s husband Donald Woodman, the artist’s recipe features colour-coordinated carnations, seasonal ingredients and a specially created smoke sculpture titled Niçoise Smoke. ‘We had no idea how much smoke we’d need,’ says Chicago. ‘The first time we tried, there was way too much; it completely covered everything and the fire department came.’

Recipe for Judy Chicago’s Niçoise salad

Ingredients

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup champagne vinegar (any white wine vinegar will do)

1 tsp smooth Dijon mustard

¼lb French beans, snipped, cooked and allowed to cool

7 radishes, 1in or less in diameter, well scrubbed

2 tomatoes, golf ball size, quartered and cored

1 head baby leaf lettuce, preferably summercrisp or buttercrunch, halved lengthwise

2 hen eggs, soft-boiled in the shell, peeled, chilled and halved

5oz sushi-grade tuna, preferably 1+, raw and very cold 

½ lemon, seeded

¼ cup Niçoise or black olives (optional)

Method

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and mustard with some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to make the vinaigrette. In a large bowl, toss the green beans with a spoonful of vinaigrette, just to gloss. Set on a serving plate. Dress the remaining vegetables (radishes, tomatoes, lettuce), one type of vegetable at a time, in the same way, just enough to gloss, then arrange on the serving plate. Arrange the hen eggs on the plate. Slice the tuna into ¼-in-thick slices and arrange on the plate. Garnish with the lemon half. As this is Judy Chicago’s preferred salad, the olives are omitted. §

This article appears in the October 2021, 25th Anniversary Issue of Wallpaper* (W*270), on newsstands now.