It's Salad Week in our household! In case you didn't read yesterday's post, here's a quick recap - each night for the next week, I'm making a new salad recipe for dinner and posting the recipe that same night on the blog along with what we thought of it. This should keep us motivated to get through this first week of transitioning back to healthier eating habits after an indulgent, carefree summer.
Salmon Nicoise Salad was on the menu for tonight. I was inspired by this beautiful classic Nicoise salad that I pinned awhile back from Simply Recipes. I love Nicoise salad! It reminds me of when I was in college. That was the first time I had ever eaten a Nicoise salad, during my mini Francophile period. I was taking French at the time from a young, very French professor complete with black turtle neck sweaters and a charming accent. He made conjugating French verbs exciting (acheter, achete, achetez - ooh la la!), and I was enamored with the whole French thing during that year, including the food. J'adore la cuisine francaise!
The Nicoise salad that Americans are most familiar with is in fact not an authentic French Salade Nicoise. Sacrebleu! An authentic Nicoise salad calls for oil-packed canned tuna, never fresh/seared, and it only includes raw vegetables. Boiled potatoes and cooked green beans are apparently not part of an original Nicoise salad, which for me is one of my favorite things about it! I've never proclaimed to be a purist about most things, especially when it comes to food, so while the version of Nicoise salad that I like may not be considered wholly authentic, it's still delicious.
At the risk of irritating the salad police even more, I used salmon in this recipe instead of tuna as a nod to my Pacific Northwest home. I love it with the tuna too but some days you're just inspired to do something different, you know? And since I enjoyed a great day today with my Mom and Dad at Pike Place Market in Seattle surrounded by beautiful seafood and fresh vegetables, salmon just seemed a natural choice for tonight. It's inevitable to have variations of recipes when people use what's available to them locally, and that's completely all right with me.
We interrupt this Salad Talk to take you on a quick detour through the Pike Place Market. It was another gorgeous day today in the Pacific Northwest:
Two things need further explanation in the photo collage above. That's my cute mom gingerly making her contribution to the famous gum wall in Post Alley under the Market. Yes, a gum covered wall! People's saliva from all over the world is left here. Weird but true (and germy!) The T-shirt (to the left of my mom's gum) just amused me - it was in the window of a chocolate shop and says, "Chocolate doesn't ask silly questions, chocolate understands." Yes, I believe this to be true, haha!
Okay, back to the salad. I decided to add anchovies to the vinaigrette for some additional flavor. Le yuck, you say?! Anchovies are often added to a Nicoise salad. If you think you don't like anchovies, then try it in a way that you can't see that it's anchovies. I'm not crazy about eating the little squiggly anchovies whole just as-is, but when you break them up and melt them in olive oil for pasta or in a paste for a dressing like this, it adds a rich, almost nutty flavor that is really delicious. I kid you not. Try it.
I'm so glad we had this for dinner. It was so delicious and hearty! And isn't it so pretty with all the colors? I forgot how good a Nicoise salad can be. There's a lot of prep work with this salad if you're doing it all at once, but if you break it up and make things ahead the night before or earlier in the day, like boiling the eggs and potatoes, cooking the green beans, and poaching the salmon, you can assemble this salad quickly come meal time. C'est delicieux!
Salmon Nicoise Salad
Ingredients for vinaigrette:
1 tsp. anchovy paste (or 2 anchovy fillets, mashed)
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbs. minced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs. lemon juice + 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar (you can use all vinegar if you don't want to use lemon juice and vice versa, you can use all lemon juice and no vinegar, as long as you use 3 Tbs. total)
1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. minced tarragon
2 Tbs. minced basil
1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Ingredients for salad:
1 medium head Boston/butter lettuce or mixed greens (or both), washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
4-6 boiled baby/new potatoes (red, white, or purple is fine; I used purple here, but they all taste similar), cut in half or thirds
3-4 ounces blanched or steamed green beans, cooked but still crisp
1 ripe tomato, cored and cut into wedges, or a good handful of little tomatoes like cherry or grape. I used mini San Marzano tomatoes
1/3 cup black French olives (like Nicoise if you can find them! An Italian gaeta is a good substitute. Kalamata will do in a pinch if that's the only thing you can find), slice in half lengthwise if desired
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved or quartered
8 ounces poached salmon, room temperature (this recipe was great and I didn't even use the dill)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Make vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together anchovy paste, dijon mustard, shallot, and garlic. Add lemon juice/red wine vinegar and worcestershire sauce and combine with whisk. Add tarragon and basil. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and whisk continuously to combine until emulsified. Use 1/3 cup up to 1/2 cup of oil depending on how you like the taste. Some people prefer a more acidic flavor, so use less oil. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Set aside to let flavors meld together while getting the rest of the salad ingredients together.
Assemble salad: Add lettuce to a bowl and dress with a small amount of vinaigrette. Plate lettuce as base of salad. Add potatoes to bowl and dress with salt to taste and a small amount of vinaigrette; add to salad. Add green beans to bowl and dress with a small amount of vinaigrette and add to salad. Do the same with the tomatoes and olives and add to salad. Add eggs. Top with poached salmon. Add a small amount of vinaigrette to top of salmon and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
You'll probably have leftover vinaigrette. It will keep in the fridge for at least a few days. Yay, Nicoise salad again soon!