As we progress through the spring season, I am now looking to make some lighter and healthier meals. Think lots of fresh veggies, healthy grains, and fish. So far, I have come up with some amazing recipes that have been super refreshing and perfect for the warmer days to come. This week, I’m sharing one of the best spring/summer salads out there: a Niçoise Salad– but with a little twist 😉
First off, if you have never had a Niçoise Salad before, make it your mission to make this recipe ASAP. It is a composed salad meaning that the ingredients are cooked separately and assembled together. The original concept for this salad originated in a town called Nice in the south of France in the early 20th century (according to Wikipedia) and is still a very popular dish in the region today. The salad not only gets its name from the city of Nice, but also from the Niçoise olives that are one of the staples of this salad. Niçoise olives are dark black, round, a little wrinkly, are smaller than your typical olive, and also come from the town of Nice in France. The olives are cured in a brine and normally preserved in olive oil…yum! Nowadays, you can typically find them at grocery stores but are also available in specialty food shops of high-end delis. Definitely make sure to pick up some of these olives if you are making this recipe, but if you can’t find them, just substitute them with some Kalamata olives.
I used a mixture of Kalamata and Niçoise olives in this recipe since that was all that my grocery store had…turned out pretty good!
A traditional Niçoise salad is composed of blanched green beans, tomato, cucumber, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, boiled potatoes, lettuce and tuna. I decided to switch out the tuna for some nice sockeye salmon in this recipe since it is locally available and a lot more affordable than tuna. With that little switch, this salad had to be re-named as a “West Coast Niçoise Salad” just to fit in with BC! I did keep everything else the same (including adding anchovies to the salad dressing) and it tastes just as good, if not better than any Niçoise Salad I have ever had before!
The most time difficult part of this recipe is the multi-tasking required to cook some ingredients. I begin my cooking the salmon since it takes the longest to fully cook. I just lay the salmon on a pan (skin side down), sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon juice and bake in the over at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or so. While the salmon is baking, I cook the some baby potatoes in boiling water for 10 minutes, or until fork tender. I then scoop out the potatoes and drain in a colander while making sure to keep the hot water in the pot to blanch the green beans (this way you don’t have to re-boil another pot of water!). Blanch the green beans for 3-4 minutes in the hot water just so that they cook a bit and turn bright green. Add the green beans to the colander and rinse everything with some cold water. This rinsing step is important as it stops the potatoes and green beans from cooking any further, and sets the bright green colour of the beans. Plus, it cools down the ingredients, which is ideal for this salad. Finally, boil some hard-boiled eggs for 10 minutes, peel, and slice into halves or wedges.
Once everything has cooked and cooled, you are ready to assemble the salad. Simply arrange everything on a nice base of lettuce, top with the salad dressing (recipe here) and serve! Just like that you have a healthy and very filling salad that is perfect for spring and summer!
Let me know in the comments below if you have ever had a Niçoise Salad before! Do you like the traditional tuna or sockeye salmon?