Food The Tastemakers:

Eat Real Food – Salad Nicoise

Photographs by Sarah Elliott

Food gives us life. But food has also given me a far richer life, filled with friendships, community, and ultimately, joy. As I play in the kitchen and as I find my way to like-minded food lovers, my own life’s picture comes into focus. Cooking is the single act that has connected the dots in my world, and Heather Cox of Eat Real Food is one of those dots.

I met Heather, who lives just up the road from me in Amagansett, through Jodi Moreno of What’s Cooking Good Looking (another “dot”, who is now a dear friend). I met Jodi through the massive connector that is Instagram. Heather, an Australian native, invited me to her home one afternoon, and unbeknownst to either of us, we were steps away from one another. Upon entering her house, I instantly swooned over every teeny detail – the design, the décor, the palette, and the stunning canapés she had laid out before me. Heather did not know me, I did not know her, but suddenly we were together chatting, vibing, eating, swooning and friending in the most intimate space in the home – the kitchen. I vowed in that moment to get to know this inspiring woman, a woman whose belief in clean eating and health runs deep. She educated herself about eating locally and seasonally through working on local farm Balsam Farms for two years, and prior to that, Stone Barns Center for three years.

Cooking at its best is a communal act, and I was reminded of this feeling as I gathered with Heather just a few short weeks ago, as summer was coming to a close. We created a fabulous niçoise salad with a duo of dressings, which is that go-to meal Heather can make with her eyes closed. Get the recipe and learn all about her right here. And tune back in on Friday to take a tour of her incredible abode!

Eat Real Food


Heather Cox

What inspired Eat Real Food and what was the genesis to where you are today? It kind of just happened actually. I’ve always been a healthy eater so when my friend suggested i share the way i eat through blogging, i thought, why not? So i starting posting pictures on instagram, threw up a website and it just kind of evolved from there.

How would you describe the food you create? Real. Simple. Organic.

What is the core value represented in the food and what do you hope to share with your readers? Simplicity. We are bombarded daily with misleading labels and information around food which has only complicated how we think about it. My mission is to get people connecting to real, organic, in season food again and to show them how easy it is to do so.

How have your Australian roots influenced your food? The quality of food in Australia is exceptional. It’s fresh, clean and generally pretty healthy so the way i eat is just second nature to me. Us Aussies love to be outdoors too which is why i love living in the Hamptons and really struggle living in the city. Nature is everything to me and being so close to the local farms producing the food that i am eating makes me so happy.

Favorite childhood food you still love and crave? Chocolate fondue with fresh fruit. Mum used to make it for me every birthday. There’s something about sitting around a table sharing a delicious dessert with your friends and family. Oh, and i have a massive sweet tooth so anything with the word chocolate in it wins me over every time!

You have worked at some of the local Amagansett farms, can you share a bit about that experience? I worked 2 seasons at the Balsam Farm Stand and it was so much fun learning about the food that is growing locally and getting to know the community. There is something to be said for working outdoors and getting your hands dirty too. It’s so good for the soul.

And how farming shifted your awareness surrounding food? I worked at Stone Barns Centre for 3 years prior to Balsam which was such an incredible learning experience. I have always been a healthy eater but i had never really thought about the importance of eating locally and in season. Working on farms definitely engrains that into you.

Go to simple meal you can make with your eyes closed here at the beach? Fish en Pappillote. It’s beyond easy to throw together and incredibly delicious at any time of the year.

Breakfast Routine? French Press Coffee with homemade cashew milk and generally a smoothie of some kind. My favorite combo at the moment is peach, orange, almond butter and ginger but most of the time it’s something green and packed with veggies.

You’d be lost in the kitchen without…… My mini food processor

Five ingredients always in your fridge? Lemon juice, wine, eggs, homemade nut milk, greens.

Go-to local restaurants or cafes you frequent in Hamptons? I pretty much rotate between Crows Nest, Mobys and Sunset Beach all summer.

You also live in Manhattan and in Aspen – How does your city or location influence your cooking? I find living in Manhattan and being healthy really difficult. The ordeal of walking to the grocery store or farmers market and then lugging the produce back home through the dirty, super hot or freezing cold city generally takes the fun out of cooking! But i still try and cook at home as much as possible as i really don’t feel great when i eat out all the time. We try and cook a lot in Aspen too. Although that always depends on how many champagnes we have at Apres ski!

Your ideal meal is… a salad nicoise and a glass of rosé With… the hubby, good friends and lots of laughs.

Tuna-Less Nicoise Salad

Heather Cox


“The key to this salad is having everything pre-prepared and then just throwing it all together when you’re ready to eat.”
Serves 2
  • 2-3 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced in half
  • big handful of green beans, ends cut off and blanched
  • 4-6 potatoes (depending on their size) boiled, peeled and sliced into quarters
  • handful or 2 of kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1 large tomato cut into big chunks (heirlooms are great at this time of year)
  • 2 big handfuls arugula
Option 1: Anchovy Vinaigrette
  • 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 anchovy fillets, ground to a paste in a mortar and pestle
  • pinch sea salt and black pepper
Option 2: Lemon and Hemp seed dressing
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch sea salt + black pepper
  • 2-4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds

The Prep

  1. Make your dressing of choice by either throwing all of the ingredients into a mason jar with a lid and shaking until mixed or whisk together in a bowl.
  2. Arrange the salad ingredients on a plate starting with the arugula first. Then add in the beans, potatoes, eggs, tomatoes and olives.
  3. Drizzle with the dressing and a little cracked pepper and enjoy with a nice cold glass of rose!
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