Thursday, 9 May 2013

Niçoise Salad

Summer eating is so different from winter eating. Not only are you less inclined to turn on your stove to roast or braise something, I find I am much more into lighter fare.

So what’s better in the summer than a nice, hearty salad? Nothing! Well actually, lots! (Burger, steak, Pogo…) But salads are really great too, and they can be filling.  And one I really love is Niçoise salad.

Salads are funny when you go to a restaurant. I find it can be really hit and miss. If you aren’t getting some bizarre, deconstructed Caesar salad, you get iceberg lettuce in a bowl with a tomato or two and some kind of gelatinous mess they claim to be a dressing. I absolutely cannot stand it when I order a side salad and all I get is bloody iceberg lettuce. I hate iceberg lettuce! It has no nutritional value, no taste, and no point on earth, with the exception to provide restaurants with an inexpensive solution for appeasing health conscious diners.

ANYWAY. In case you weren’t sure, this salad will not be including iceberg lettuce. We’ll use real greens, as in, the type that come pre-washed in the plastic tub (if you are lazy and hate washing lettuce like me.) If you want, you can also use some kind of real lettuce that you buy resembling a lettuce plant.

Normally, this salad uses tuna as a protein. However, Gordon Ramsey, who is on my list of one true loves, is the inspiration for this salad. Well, not HIM, it’s his recipe that was the inspiration (that sounded a bit Fatal Attraction, I don’t want his security trying to hunt me down). Gordon Ramsey uses salmon, and since he is a god and I am a mere mortal, we will also use salmon.

My dinner companion for this meal had originally requested smoked salmon, but I was worried that wouldn’t provide us with enough to eat. He’s one of Those People who won’t eat bread or dairy, so of course I was floundering for what to feed him. Where I come from, men eat meat and potatoes, and any meal lacking either of those components is not truly a meal at all. So, I used a filet of salmon, and I baked it in the oven at 350° for about 15-20 minutes, season with a little cayenne and paprika.  (My poor mother, I literally call her every single week asking how to cook salmon. It just will not stick in my head.)

You’ll also need:
§  Baby red potatoes (halved or quartered)
§  Green beans
§  Lettuce of some variety
§  Olives
§  Hard-boiled eggs (peeled and cut in halves or quartered)
For the dressing:
§  Olive oil (2 parts)
§  Lemon juice (1 part)
§  A little fresh dill
§  Salt and pepper
§  1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

To make your dressing, put all of the ingredients in a jar and shake. Or stir. Or whisk. Taste. Season as necessary.

I am going to assume you know how to hard boil an egg and cook some potatoes. But in case you don’t, just boil them until the potatoes are soft and the eggs are hard. Easy! I steamed my beans for about five minutes and then blanched them in ice water. Also, toss the salad greens with the dressing, but reserve a little.

You could serve this as a cold salad or a warm salad; I served it warm to make it more meal-like. This is the fun part, you get to plate it! Start with a bed of dressed lettuce. Place your warm salmon on top, then your eggs, olives, beans and potatoes. Drizzle your reserved dressing on top. Now you can serve a delicious salad with lots of protein and various other nutritious bits. 

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