Here is an amazing salad to prepare for Mother’s Day lunch or brunch or anytime you want to dine al fresco. Niçoise simply means food that it is from around and prepared in Nice (France) in this case a salad using locally grown ingredients such as Niçoise olives, tomatoes, French green beans, eggs, etc. Traditionally a Salade Niçoise it made with oil packed tuna and anchovies.
Since I am not hanging out with Mom on the French Riviera this Mother’s Day, I have put my own West Coast Riviera spin on it with a nice (not Nice… hehe, get it?) piece of grilled salmon, a few slices of avocado and a wonderful Meyer lemon vinaigrette.
Salade Niçoise is a composed salad, meaning that it is artfully arranged with the dressing drizzled over the top as opposed to being all tossed together. This is where you get your gold star for grilling presentation. You could even earn an extra star if you chill the plates!
There is an element of preparedness that goes into making this salad, however, it is not at all difficult. Simply read through the recipe first so that you know what to expect as a few things have to happen first. You can prepare the salad components ahead of time so that when it comes hanging out with your guests all you have to do it grill the salmon and plate the salad.
A couple of notes. If you cannot find Niçoise olives, substitute with Kalamata which are more widely available – please don’t use generic canned black olives. 😦 Also, if your salmon break or falls apart for some reason, simple break it apart into nice big flakes and pieces – it will look just as lovely. 🙂
Grilled Salmon Salade Niçoise with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
serves four to six
For the Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Salad:
1 1/2 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, with skin left on
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound baby potatoes – red, gold, purple or a combination, halved
10- to 12-ounces haricots verts or thin green beans, trimmed
12 ounces cherry tomatoes (I used heirloom), halved
1 ripe avocado
1 half lemon
1 head Bibb (Boston) lettuce, leaves separated
4 hard boiled eggs, quartered
1/2 cup pitted Niçoise (or Kalamata) black olives
6 radishes, sliced
Method: Direct heat grilling
For the Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette: In a small mixing bowl or blender whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil. Once combined, slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking to emulsify the vinaigrette. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Cut the salmon in to serving portions (or have fish monger do it for you). Brush the salmon with 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator to marinate while you prepare the other ingredients and/or are ready to cook. No longer than 2 to 3 hours.
Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Season with salt and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes or until the are fork tender. Drain and transfer to a bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Set aside to cool; tossing occasionally. Once cooled set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Place the haricots verts in another medium saucepan and cover with water. Season the water with salt and bring to a boil for about 4 minutes until bright green and fork tender. Have on hand a bowl of ice water. When the beans are cooked, drain and plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside in the refrigerator.
Set up grill for cooking over medium-high heat. Brush and oil grates before cooking. Place fish on the grill (flesh-side down) at a 45° angle to the grates cook for 4 to 6 minutes then use a SPATULA to flip. Cook for another 5 minutes or so. The salmon is done when it is still moist, flake with a fork and has just turned opaque at the center. Transfer salmon to a platter and brush with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Set aside while you compose the salads.
Place the tomatoes in a bowl and toss with salt and pepper to taste. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Peel and slice the avocado and then squeeze the lemon over the top to prevent browning.
Divide the lettuce among the serving plates and arrange the potatoes, haricots verts, radish slices, hard boiled eggs, olives, avocado, tomatoes on top. Remove the skin from the salmon and place the salmon on the salad. Whisk any juices left from the tomatoes into the vinaigrette. Drizzle over the salads or serve on the side.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!