Salad niçoise: The pasta puttanesca of salads. At least, that’s how I look at it. I’m sure a few people in France would disagree, but I think this salad is a great way to clean out the veggies in my fridge that would otherwise go bad. In the U.S., a salad niçoise typically features seared tuna, green beans, olives, tomatoes and red onions, along with boiled potatoes and eggs, on a bed of greens.
Though in-season veggies are always best, this salad is nice in the winter months because of the cooked components. It’s also not a wimpy salad. It’s nice and filling, which is the only type of salad I enjoy eating.
Instead of tuna and green beans, I used salmon and asparagus for a Pacific Northwest twist. I also added cucumber because I happened to have one in my fridge, and watermelon radishes because they were on sale at the farmers market and looked really pretty. I swapped red onions for shallots because I. LOVE. SHALLOTS. (And because they’re mild and nicer to eat raw.) I used kalamata olives, but I honestly wasn’t crazy about them in this – they may have overpowered the other ingredients a little. Green olives might work better. But the honey mustard dressing tied the flavors together beautifully, and all the colors definitely made for a beautiful platter.
To be honest, this salad is a pain in the ass to make. There’s a lot of chopping, boiling, broiling and sautéing, and it takes a long time. If you make this salad, substitute and simplify to your heart’s content. If I’m on a budget or in a hurry, I might just do canned tuna packed in oil, along with potatoes, tomatoes and whatever veggies I have on hand. A little salt, pepper and olive oil on top, and voilà!
Pacific Northwest Salad Niçoise
For the salad
- 1 pound baby potatoes, scrubbed
- 6 eggs
- 3 small watermelon radishes, or one bunch red radishes, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup olives, halved
- 1 cucumber, sliced to ⅛ of an inch and quartered
- 2 large shallots, sliced thin
- 2 heads of butter lettuce, washed and torn
For the asparagus
- 1 pound asparagus, stems trimmed and cut in half
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Squeeze of lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the salmon
- 1-pound fillet of salmon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the dressing
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- Scrub potatoes, place in medium saucepan and cover with cool water. Add salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until fork-tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and halve, then set aside.
- Next, place eggs in medium saucepan and fill with cool water, covering eggs by an inch. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Remove from heat as soon as water reaches full boil. Cover and let stand for five minutes. Place eggs in ice water bath and set aside.
- For the asparagus, heat oil over medium heat and add asparagus, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Cook about five minutes or until tender, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and place the fillet of salmon on the foil. Pat dry with a paper towel and salt and pepper fillet to taste. Combine minced rosemary and garlic, then press mixture into salmon, covering as much of the fillet as possible. Drizzle olive oil over fish. Using your fingers, work the oil into the fish, ensuring the herbs and any exposed salmon are coated. Turn broiler to high and place salmon on highest rack in oven. Broil for about 8 minutes, shifting pan as needed to ensure even cooking, until fish is flaky and cooked through. After salmon cools, carefully remove from foil-covered pan. The skin should stick to the foil, leaving you with the good stuff.
- For the dressing, combine all ingredients by whisking or shaking in a mason jar.
- Peel eggs under cool running water and quarter lengthwise.
- Assemble salad ingredients on a bed of lettuce, with the salmon in the center. Dress and serve!