Today’s Summer Tossed Salad is a play on a traditional Salade Niçoise. Here at Mainstay, we have an appreciation for the finer things, especially French foods. However, we’re also pretty pragmatic on a daily basis. So sometimes, we take shortcuts, and there is nothing wrong with that!
There are many arguments over what technically goes into this historic French dish. Traditionalists claim it should never contain potatoes or green beans, and yet those two ingredients were the brain-child of highly esteemed French chef, Auguste Escoffier. British chef and cookbook writer, Nigella Lawson, summed it up appropriately when she said, “Everyone seems to have a very strong opinion as to what should or should not go into a Salade Niçoise.” Nowadays, you can typically expect it to have tuna or anchovies, garden fresh tomatoes, a hard boiled egg, blanched green beans, boiled potatoes, and niçoise olives, tossed in a vinaigrette.
Our version is a little different. First, we live where gorgeous fresh salmon fillets are readily available everywhere, and it makes an excellent substitution for the tuna. We use salmon almost exclusively for our Salade Niçoise. Secondly, we have an addiction to good ole basic black olives. Our pantry always has a stash, so we swapped those out, as well. Finally, we think everything is made better when it’s made Amandine, so we fried up some sliced almonds with butter and dill and sprinkled them on top. ((insert chef’s kiss here))
Otherwise, the rest is pretty traditional. It’s light, it’s fresh, and it’s delicious! Serve the salmon warm off the heat or cook it ahead and serve it cold out of the fridge; both taste fantastic! Whichever variation you choose, Salade Niçoise deserves a place on your list of the best Summer Tossed Salad ideas out there!
ICE TIP #1: If your lettuce is starting to wilt, simply chop it and soak it in an ice bath for 5-10 minutes before drying and using. The cold water breathes new life and crispness into your leaves. Once you learn this trick, you’ll never go back!
ICE TIP #2: When serving your green beans in a salad like this, be sure to blanch them. Steam or boil them just until they cook through. Remove them from the heat and submerge them in ice water to stop the cooking quickly. This will help them retain the bright green color and crunch you want!
(Original recipe: Ina Garten)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh dill, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1 pound fresh salmon fillets
1 pound small Yukon gold potatoes, boiled until soft and sliced
1/2 pound green beans (haricots verts are preferred), cooked through and blanched
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in 1/2
1 bunch romaine hearts, cleaned and chopped
14-oz can large black olives, sliced
1 lemon, sliced into wedges to garnish
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Salt and pepper the salmon fillets. In a skillet, pan-fry the salmon over medium heat until cooked through, approx 4 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate, drizzling 1 spoonful of the vinaigrette over the top of each to soak in while the salmon rests.
Once all the ingredients are prepared, toss your chopped romaine hearts in the remainder of the vinaigrette and portion onto two plates. Arrange the remaining ingredients on top.
BONUS: Make it Amandine! Simply sprinkle the top with sliced almonds that have been quickly pan-fried in butter and sprinkled with sea salt and fresh dill. It’s a fantastic compliment to the flavor!