Niçoise salad is a composed French salad — a staple summertime meal best eaten al fresco and often made with good-quality canned tuna. But it’s equally excellent (and we think maybe even better) with a gorgeous fillet of grilled salmon. An herbaceous vinaigrette does double duty, flavoring a quick potato salad and serving as the dressing for the salad. If you like, add a soft boiled egg to each portion.
- Herb Vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 pound small Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
- 1 cup trimmed and halved sugar snap peas, cut crosswise on the diagonal
- 2 (6 to 8 ounce) king salmon fillets, pin bones removed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Neutral oil
- 4 cups torn butter lettuce leaves
- ⅓ cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup pitted Niçoise or Kalamata olives
Make the vinaigrette
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallot, and mustard and season with salt and pepper. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the olive and canola oils until emulsified. Whisk in the herbs.
Prep the Vegetables
In a medium saucepan of salted water, add the potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring once or twice, until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl to cool. Add the sugar snap peas to the water and quickly blanch, 30 seconds. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water, drain well, and set aside. Stir 3 tablespoons vinaigrette into the potatoes and set aside.
Grill the Salmon
Pat salmon dry with paper towels. Season the salmon all over with salt and pepper and brush with oil. Let sit at room temperature while the grill preheats. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat (450°F). Cook the salmon skin-side up, without disturbing, until the fish lifts easily from the grate, 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully flip the salmon and cook to medium-rare, about 2 minutes longer, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Set aside to cool slightly.
Divide the butter lettuce between two plates. Arrange the dressed potatoes, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, and olives in a decorative pattern on top of the lettuce. Top each salad with a grilled salmon fillet. Drizzle with some of the dressing, and garnish with additional tarragon and parsley. Serve.
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Level it Up
Traditional Niçoise salad wouldn’t be complete without a luscious jammy egg. Add eggs to boiling water and cook 6½ minutes, at a gentle boil. Transfer to ice water to cool for a few minutes before peeling.
Change it Up
Wrap any leftovers in lettuce leaves or rice paper wrappers. Or mash the potatoes with the salmon into cakes and pan-fry until crispy.
Pair it Up
Keep it fresh and simple with a French Provençal rosé that matches the salad's origins.
Know Your Cook
Kim Laidlaw is the owner of Cast Iron Media, LLC and an award-winning cookbook editor, author, and recipe developer. Her cookbooks include Everyday Slow Cooking, Quick Slow Cooking, Home Baked Comfort, Dessert of the Day, the IACP award-nominated Baby & Toddler on the Go, and Five Mary’s Ranch Raised Cookbook, which she co-authored. She works with clients from Kendall Jackson Winery to Top Chef Tanya Holland. She’s a graduate of the California Culinary Academy, former instructor at the acclaimed San Francisco Cooking School, and former baker at La Farine French Bakery in Oakland, California. Kim lives in Petaluma, California with her Scottish husband, their always-entertaining daughter, and a bountiful home garden.