Salade Nicoise with Plank Grilled Salmon


"Salade Composée" is my latest entertaining obsession. It's like a giant salad but instead of tossing everything together, you lay the components out artfully on a platter, lightly dress the separate ingredients, and let your guests generously help themselves from the bounty provided. It makes a much bolder statement than a bowl full of tossed lettuce and tomatoes and is sophisticated enough to serve as an entire meal. Salade Nicoise, a composed salad hailing from the French coastal town of Nice, is one of my favorite dishes of all time. Traditionally made with canned tuna, haricots verts, boiled eggs, tomatoes, capers and/or olives, anchovies, potatoes and greens, this dish is incredibly complex. While I love tuna, I wanted to elevate this version of Salade Nicoise a bit and so I've swapped in flaked plank grilled salmon, taking this recipe from "casual lunch" to "dinner party" status. Don't be nervous about grilling salmon on cedar planks! It's seriously easy and the fish stays so moist when you cook it this way. Just make sure to soak your planks at least an hour ahead of time to prevent flare ups!


I have made a few more simple tweaks to this classic salad: I've roasted the potatoes instead of boiling them (because who wants a mushy potato when you can have a crispy one?), and I've incorporated even more kalamata olives into the vinaigrette (l can never have too many olives). You can make many of the components for the salad ahead of time (vinaigrette, boiled eggs and haricots verts can all be prepped in advance), making this a great choice for both entertaining or a quick weeknight meal. Transport yourself to the French Riviera with this fresh, delicious and tres belle salade!

prep time: 30 min. cook time: 45 min. serves: 4


INGREDIENTS

1 lb medium yukon gold potatoes

olive oil

salt and pepper

4 cups arugula

1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1-1/2 cups haricots verts or green beans, trimmed

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives

6 hardboiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half

1-1/2 lbs fresh salmon filet, skin on

juice of half a lemon

*special equipment: 2 cedar grilling planks


VINAIGRETTE

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp anchovy paste

1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

1 tbsp chopped basil

2 tbsp champagne (or tarragon) vinegar

12 pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped

1 tbsp minced shallot

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Soak the cedar planks in a large baking dish filled with water. Use a plate or heavy mug to keep them submerged. Soak for at least one hour prior to grilling. Preheat the grill to 375° and preheat the oven to 400°. Make the vinaigrette: combine all of the ingredients besides the olive oil into a bowl or jar. Slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking to emulsify. Set the vinaigrette aside. Cut the potatoes into 2” pieces and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 40-45 minutes, flipping halfway through, until brown on the outside and tender on the inside- set them aside to slightly cool. Blanche the haricots verts in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Remove them to an ice bath to halt cooking, then drain them in a colander and lay them out on a dish towel to dry. When the grill is at temperature, drizzle a little olive oil on top of the salmon, squeeze 1/2 of a lemon on top, and season the filet generously with salt and pepper. Season the tops of your cedar planks with some salt as well. Place the cedar planks on the grill right next to each other and lay the filet skin side down on top of the planks. Shut the grill and cook the salmon for 20-25 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the filet registers 125°. Carefully remove the fish (on the planks) from the grill (I use a rimless baking sheet as my "spatula"), and allow it to rest while you assemble your platter. Start by setting the arugula in a big bunch in one area of your platter. Lightly dress with some of vinaigrette- not too much! Next, start to add the other ingredients in their own groupings: the green beans, halved tomatoes, olives, eggs and potatoes. Save some room for the star of the show- the salmon! Use a spatula to slide in between the flesh of salmon and the skin- it should stick to the cedar planks in one piece. Discard the planks and pull the fish into large flakes and add it to your platter. Drizzle the salmon and other ingredients (except for the pre-dressed arugula) with the remaining vinaigrette and serve! *if not serving right away, hold off on dressing the salad until the last minute.


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