RECIPE: Shortcut salade nicoise doesn’t skimp on flavor

Nicoise-Style Smoked Salmon Salad.
(CHRIS HUNT FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Combined ShapeCaption
Nicoise-Style Smoked Salmon Salad. (CHRIS HUNT FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Meal-sized salads are great for summer dinners. One of my favorites is the salade nicoise, a lettuce-free salad of colorful vegetables and some kind of canned or cured fish. It is savory, salty and filling. To adapt it to a 5:30 Challenge recipe, though, it needs to be pared down to the essentials.

To keep the dish in hearty, meal-sized territory, I use a generous amount of potatoes and green beans. Select the smallest potatoes you can find (look for bags labeled “mini” or “peewee”); they don’t require peeling or chopping and will cook in boiling water in about 10 minutes. Add the green beans to the pot when the potatoes are almost done. The beans only need a few minutes to turn tender, at which point you should be able to pierce the potatoes with a fork.

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For the fish, I prefer to use cold-smoked salmon. Besides adding a briny component to the salad, it brings color and creamy texture — and doesn’t need much more than a crank of pepper and drizzle of dressing to taste its best. I’m partial to a basic herb vinaigrette made from olive oil, red wine vinegar and chopped fresh tarragon. The licorice notes of tarragon pair beautifully with the salmon, but if you’d prefer something more neutral, parsley will suffice.

Traditionally, salade nicoise is served in a “composed” style, meaning that each ingredient is dressed separately, and it’s up to the diner to mix everything together. But make it easy on yourself: toss all the vegetables in the dressing, then top with the salmon. There’s no need to get any fancier.

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Nicoise-Style Smoked Salmon Salad
  • 1 (24-ounce) bag mini or peewee potatoes (1-2 inches in diameter)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 8 ounces cold-smoked salmon
  • Place potatoes in a large pot. Cover with 2 inches of cold water and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and rapidly simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add the green beans and cook until the beans and potatoes are both tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add about three-quarters of the dressing to the cooked vegetables and stir well to coat. Divide among four serving plates. Top with equal portions of salmon and season with pepper. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salmon. Serve. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 416 calories (percent of calories from fat, 49), 16 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 23 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 13 milligrams cholesterol, 689 milligrams sodium.
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