Niçoise can be made as either a tossed or composed salad. If I’m making it just for myself, I would toss everything in a bowl, mix up the dressing, and be on my way. Serving it to a group of people is a little bit different. I prefer the composed version, as it’s much better looking and people can be selective with what ingredients they’re putting on their plate. They key to a good composed salad (Niçoise, or otherwise) is making sure that all of the components are properly seasoned. Pouring the dressing on top doesn’t always get into all of the nooks and crannies, so make sure that you dress each component as you go, and then you’ll know that all parts of the salad are seasoned and delicious.
- 1 lb baby or fingerling potatoes, halved
- salt and herbs de provence
- 1 lb asparagus spears, trimmed
- 2 - 4oz pieces of fresh salmon
- a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 3 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 eggs, hard boiled
- 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
- a small bunch of chives, finely chopped
- neutral tasting cooking oil
- 6 curly lettuce leaves, torn into large pieces
- juice and zest from 1 small lemon
- 2 tsp. grainy mustard
- 1 tsp. capers, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Drizzle the potatoes with a little bit of oil and season with salt and dried herbs. Arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until cooked through.
- While the potatoes are cooking, make the dressing by whisking together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Turn on the broiler and arrange the asparagus spears on the same cookie sheet (remove parchment paper - it may catch on fire), or place them in a baking dish. Broil them on the top rack for a few minutes, roll them over, and broil for another minute or two. Keep a close eye on them. You want slight charred bits, but don’t overcook or burn the asparagus. Toss the asparagus in the dressing.
- Season the salmon with salt. Preheat a cast iron skillet on medium heat and add enough oil to very lightly coat the bottom of the skillet. When the oil is shimmering, place the salmon (skin-side down, if there’s skin on it) on the skillet and sear for about 4 - 5 minutes. When it easily releases from the skillet and has a nice golden crust, flip it over and sear it on the other side until it just starts to turn opaque near the middle of the fillet. Remove it from the skillet and set aside.
- Starting with the potatoes and asparagus, arrange the vegetables on a large platter. Dress the lettuce leaves and tomatoes. Tuck the lettuce leaves under and around the potatoes, top with tomatoes, then with the eggs, radishes, and olives. Drizzle dressing as you go to make sure that all of the elements are dressed. Finally, add the salmon fillets on top and garnish with chives.
- Serve warm with any remaining dressing on the side.