Two Years Ago: Chicken with Fresh Cherry Salsa
Nicoise refers to something from Nice, France. In this case, it refers to a famous main-dish salad typically made with tuna, green beans, potatoes and eggs. Salmon is a relatively common substitute and I wanted to use it here for two reasons: fresh wild salmon is in season right now, and salmon has lower mercury levels than tuna. Plus, salmon is really good for you along with the green beans, potatoes and olives. Fresh salmon is preferable to frozen, and wild-caught is better than farmed. Buy the best quality fish you can find - it really does make a difference.
This is a fabulous and pretty main dish salad suitable for company, and it's easy to make because you can do all the cooking in advance - all that happens at the last minute is assembly. That makes it perfect for a summer meal.
There are four ingredients that you might consider a little fancy-schmancy, but they're worth it. The first is haricot verts, or small French green beans. You'll often find them pre-packaged as "French green beans" at the grocery store. If you can't find them, use regular green beans.
The second is tiny multi-colored potatoes, which can be found pre-packaged in most stores these days. They're really cute but if you can't find them use the tiniest potatoes you can find.
Frisee is a light green lacy lettuce that's very pretty (on the right in the picture below). You can find it in some grocery stores or natural foods stores. I found the red variety in a plastic container with three other types of lettuce in my local store and thought the combination of the two would be pretty, but you could always just use a bag of spring mix lettuce instead.
And finally, Nicoise olives are slightly smaller than their more common Greek cousin, kalamatas, but you can use kalamatas in a pinch - the taste is fairly similar.
Note: to make ahead, make the vinaigrette and refrigerate. Cook the salmon, eggs, beans, and potatoes and refrigerate covered separately.
For the vinaigrette:
½ medium shallot, diced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 mashed anchovy fillets or anchovy paste, optional
12 ounces skin-on salmon fillet, preferably fresh and wild caught
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt and pepper
4 eggs, room temperature
6 ounces haricot verts (thin French green beans), trimmed
12 ounces tiny multi-colored potatoes
6 cups frisee or other lettuce
1/3 nicoise olives, pitted
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously. Alternately, add all ingredients except olive oil to a small bowl, then whisk olive oil in slowly. Taste vinaigrette and adjust seasonings.
Season the salmon by brushing with olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper. Grill on an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan over medium-high heat for 4 minutes on the first side and approximately 3 minutes on the second side, until the internal temperature reaches 140d. Remove from heat and let rest. Remove the skin.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, then gently submerge the eggs. Boil for 9 minutes, then remove and immediately place in an ice bath. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and place in the ice bath with the eggs. When cold, remove the eggs and beans from the ice bath and pat dry. Finally, add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook for 15-20 minutes until fork-tender. Remove, drain, and let cool.
When ready to serve, divide the lettuce between four plates. Break the salmon into large flakes and place in a pile on each plate. Cut the potatoes in half (or thirds, if larger) and place next to the salmon. Divide the haricot verts and olive between plates. Shell the eggs and slice or cut in half, and place on each plate. Scatter the capers on top of each salad, drizzle with vinaigrette, and serve with any remaining vinaigrette passed separately.