Kitchen Confessions: Make mouth-watering nicoise salad in a snap

Grilled salmon nicoise salad

When the temperatures rise, I want to be as far away from the oven as possible! One of my little tricks is to grill up enough protein (fish, chicken or beef) for a couple days and then prep up everything for a giant salad bar that I can choose from for the week. I like to have a variety of salad options to pick from so I don’t get too bored; that includes having a few vinaigrettes ready too.

One of my favourite salads is the nicoise salad, particularly because it looks beautiful when you plate it as a composed salad for guests, but also because it can be made with really simple ingredients, most of them from your pantry or refrigerator staples.

The equation for a traditional nicoise salad is:

Tuna + olives + tomatoes + eggs + potatoes + vinaigrette + seasonal veg = nicoise salad

It’s an easy recipe to follow; while your salmon is grilling away, boil your eggs and potatoes (I boil them both in the same pot and they seem come out fine, plus it’s one less pot to wash). Steam the beans at the same time too but placing a vegetable steamer on top too! Then grab a nice big platter and start to build your masterpiece:

A base:

Romaine lettuce, butter lettuce leaves, baby spinach or spring mix

The fish:

I make salmon in the easiest way on the BBQ by spreading out a large sheet of tin foil and make a little bed of sliced lemon, fresh herbs and whole green onions. After patting the fish with a paper towel, place it on top of the little bed lemon/herb bed and add a drizzle of olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add a couple more slices of fresh lemon and a few more herbs. Wrap the foil up tightly and chuck on a hot grill for 15-20 mins depending on the size of the fish and how well done you like your fish.

The essential nicoise add-ins:

Fish! I’ve used grilled salmon, but traditionally a nicoise salad would be made with seared tuna, tinned tuna or anchovies

Boiled/steamed baby tomatoes

Boiled eggs

Steamed green beans

Thinly sliced red onion

Chopped cucumber

Tomatoes (quarter a few Roma tomatoes or even a handful or two of little grape tomatoes)

Olives & marinated artichoke hearts (both found in bulk in the deli section of most grocery stores)

Vinaigrette:

1 tbsp shallot, minced (red onion would also work)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (juice from about half a lemon)

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp maple syrup

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley and/or any herbs you have and like

Add all ingredients into a tight sealing jar and shake until combined.

You can serve this as a “dressed salad” meaning that you add the vinaigrette and toss it all together, but I prefer serving on a platter and letting people pick and choose what they want and then dress it themselves. This also makes it easier to store leftovers in the fridge and ready for tomorrow’s lunch!

Shannon Yacyshyn’s Kitchen Confessions column runs every second Thursday in the Red Deer Advocate.

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