Pasta Salad, Niçoise Style, sunflowers – or not

I used to call this Niçoise Pasta Salad but as no self-respecting Niçois would break so far from tradition I decided to change the name.

A proper Salade Niçoise would have the small, black Niçoise olives and be served on a bed of lettuce.

While there may be arguments as to whether the green beans are cooked or raw, anchovies added or not, potatoes used or not, I doubt that pasta will ever be considered.

There won’t be an argument over the tuna – other than which is the best canned tuna.

Salade Niçoise always uses canned, never fresh.

The recipe, Pasta Salad, Niçoise Style, has been updated, nutrition information added, and re-posted here: Niçoise-Style Pasta Salad.

Last year I had a taupe (mole) in my herb garden. For about 3 weeks in early summer it tunneled under my basil, ruining my chances for a decent Caprese Salad or for fresh pesto. In desperation I planted basil seeds in two window boxes with the hope that I might have some decent size plants by early fall.

They never grew…..

It was the most bizarre thing – the seeds sprouted in a timely fashion, developed their first pair of true leaves in a timely fashion and then stopped.

They didn’t grow and they didn’t die.

They were green, alive and a half inch tall for two months. They never got more leaves and the leaves they had never grew.

Why am I telling you a tale of last summer’s woes you ask?

Because it happened to our farmer neighbor this year….. The one that dug our new pond.

He planted sunflowers in the field. Where he put all the dirt from the pond, leveling out the field, nothing is growing.


In the old parts of the field the sunflowers are doing fine, but where the dirt from the pond is the sunflowers came up on schedule, grew to about 3 inches, just like the rest of the field, then stopped. In spots they might have attained a height of oh, say, 5 inches…. but it’s been almost 3 months now.

I am clueless….. I assume the farmer knows more.

On the other hand – here are the blooming sunflowers from the rest of the field:


From our balcony I counted 8 sunflower fields.  The wheat has all been harvested.


There was very little corn planted in our area this year.

That’s okay…. sunflowers are prettier.

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3 thoughts on “Pasta Salad, Niçoise Style, sunflowers – or not”

  1. My guess is that the disturbed soil from the pond had few worms, microbes, etc in it to aid growth. Maybe by next year the soil will have replenished itself with these life givers.

  2. the tops will only grow as far as the roots so maybe the soil in both cases was too compact? or as Zoomie said not enough nutrients and worms and microbes. salad looks yummy

  3. Zoomie, my guess is that you’re right…. Which makes me surprised he didn’t plant rye to just plow under.

    Gayle, the farm field is heavy clay so that could be part of it. I find it all most curious.

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