Salmon Nicoise Dinner Salad
I hate salads. They are generally just loaded up with a bunch of lettuce, not enough protein or vegetables, and leave me hungry. But even I, resident salad hater, can get behind the nicoise salad, probably because it’s not really a salad. It’s a loose interpretation of salad. Yes, there are leafy greens, vegetables, and protein and yes, it’s finished with a dressing but the proportions are much more to my liking. Traditionally, nicoise salads are made with fresh tuna and come from the Nice region in France. Blanched green beans, boiled potatoes, olives, tomatoes, and more, all dressed up in a simple Dijon mustard vinaigrette. It’s hearty but with delicate flavors. I don’t trust most of the “fresh” tuna at the supermarket and the real fresh tuna is usually $20-$25 per pound, which is a bit steep for a weeknight meal. So, based on my budget and whatever looked good at the grocery store that week, I made my own nicoise-inspired dinner salad.
It does have a lot of components but it comes together easily. You can also cook and prep these components in larger batches and make this your meal prep meals or make a DIY dinner salad station for your next dinner party. I don’t really like salmon that’s not freshly made - something about microwaving fish just feels wrong - so you can either skip the fish or substitute with chicken.
2 four to six oz portions of salmon
8-10 oz small sweet and baby potatoes, cut into similar-sized pieces
1 bunch asparagus or green beans
2 cups roasted or steamed beets (instructions below)
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
10-12 kalamata olives, halved
Tender lettuce to serve, such as bibb lettuce
1 tbsp olive oil
For the dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp (1.5 tsp) white wine or champagne vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Cook the beets. If using the oven: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the beet into a fist-sized chunk, if it’s large. Wrap it in aluminium foil and place it on a baking dish. Roast in the oven for 45 mins to 1 hour. Let cool for 10-15 mins and remove the foil. Cut into smaller chunks. If using the steaming method, cut the beet into bite-sized chunks and place in a steamer over a pot of boiling water. Cover and let steam for 20 mins. This can be done ahead of time - the beets will keep for 4-5 days in your fridge.
Roast the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Toss the potato chunks in 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper, and arrange on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 mins.
While the potatoes are roasting, bring a pot of water to boil. Blanch your asparagus or green beans for 4 mins once the water is boiling. Remove from the boiling water and place immediately on a plate. Toss with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and set aside.
Cook the salmon. If it’s wild-caught, it will cook much more quickly. Spray some cooking spray onto a cold non-stick skillet and sprinkle some salt. Place the salmon skin-side down and turn on the heat to medium high. Cook for 5 mins, or until the skin is crispy. Turn over, season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional 2 mins. Turn off the heat and let the salmon continue to cook in the residual heat. If it’s farm-raised, cook using the same method but cook the skin for 7 mins and once flipped, cook for 4 mins.
Prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard.
Assemble the salad. Start with a layer of the lettuce and arrange all other components - roasted potatoes, roasted beets, tomatoes, olives, asparagus. Drizzle with the dressing, sprinkle a little salt on the tomatoes, beets, and asparagus, and serve!