Salmon Niçoise Salad

A take on Julia Child's composed Salad Niçoise, this dish includes baked salmon instead of tuna. A perfect do-ahead dinner served at room temperature, it was particularly perfect for today's unseasonably hot, 85-degree day! It can easily accommodate your vegan guests by eliminating the salmon and hard boiled egg. Serves 4 (adjust quantities for number of diners). 


(4) 4-5 oz. salmon fillets, skin on
1 lb. baby potatoes, red or white (3-4 per person)
1 T. finely minced shallot
2-3 T. each white wine and water
1 head Boston lettuce, washed, separated into leaves, spun or blotted dry and chilled
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or 4 ripe tomatoes, quartered)
1/2 lb. fresh string beans, trimmed, blanched and chilled
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1/2 c. niçoise olives
2-3 T. capers
3 T. chopped fresh parsley

1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T. each lemon juice and wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2/3 c. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 T. fresh basil, chopped

If serving this salad later, make the vinaigrette, hard boil the eggs, bake the salmon, blanch the green beans, steam the potatoes, and wash/dry the lettuce earlier in the day and assemble right before eating.

For the vinaigrette, mash the pressed garlic and salt in a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, wine vinegar, and mustard and whisk to incorporate. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking until emulsified. Add a grind of pepper and the chopped basil. Alternately you could put all ingredients in a jar and shake for 30 seconds to blend.

For the salmon, preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and put the salmon skin side down. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette on each fillet and spread to cover with your hand; let sit for 15 minutes. Put in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Use a metal spatula to separate the skin from the fillets; discard the skin. Put on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the green beans, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the beans, bring back to a boil, and cook for 8 minutes (4 minutes for a crunchier bean). Drain well and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Spread the beans on paper towels and blot with more paper towels to dry. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the potatoes, steam whole for about 20 minutes. While still warm slice in half, then into 3/8-inch slices and put into a large bowl; immediately mix in the minced shallot, 1/4 tsp. salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Add the wine and water and toss gently; let sit for 5 minutes, tossing twice more, allowing the potatoes to absorb as much liquid as they will. Then fold gently with 1/4 c. of the vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

When ready to assemble the salad you can put everything on a large platter for people to help themselves, or create an artful arrangement on each guest's plate. Put the lettuce leaves around the edge of the plate; put the salmon on one side. Place some potato salad in the middle. Arrange groups of tomatoes around the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and droplets of the dressing. Mix the green beans with a spoonful of the dressing plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste and put on the plate. Distribute the eggs, yellow side up, and drizzle with some dressing; add the olives and the capers to fill in. Sprinkle some dressing over the salmon and the rest of the plate and garnish all with chopped parsley.