Summer

Salmon Niçoise Salad

July 27, 2020
Photo by Allison Buford
Author Notes

July’s heat creates the annual predicament of all the produce ripening at the same time and me not wanting to turn on an oven unless absolutely necessary. Thankfully, mid-summer produce can withstand being batch-cooked one day and used up for the rest of the week.

New potatoes, the season’s first crop of spuds, can be boiled in large quantities, cooled, and turned into any number of things. Chopped and dressed with vinaigrette and herbs for a light potato salad. Smashed with your hands and pan-fried for breakfast potatoes. Added to a light soup should the nights suddenly turn cool.

String beans are usually in full force in July, presenting in colors from classic green to eggplant-esque purple to waxy yellow. They take to a grill, a pan fry or, my favorite, a quick dip in boiling salted water. I’ve even been known to line a colander with green beans and pour potatoes and their cooking water over the green beans instead of cooking them on their own. The heat of the water takes the raw edge off, but leaves the green beans crisp in the center. Just be prepared, even a quick dunk in hot water will turn the most vibrant purple beans to a grey-green color.

This recipe also includes my favorite way to cook skin-on fish—sear very hard in plenty of oil on the skin side, then very lightly on the flesh side. The resulting deeply browned, crispy skin contrasts the silky, just-cooked flesh. The only downside is that the fish will spit and sputter when it hits the hot oil, which can burn your arms (long sleeves help) and certainly muck up your stovetop. It is just as easy to grill the fish, but I almost never get the skin to crisp as evenly. Thankfully, heating a frying pan on a grill leaves the mess outside.

The olive relish will keep in your fridge for a couple of weeks at least, so consider making a double batch and using it to dress any number of warm, room temperature, or cool salads just like this one. —abraberens

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Ingredients
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup black or green lentils
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 3 pounds baby potatoes, halved if you want, boiled in salted water until tender
  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed, blanched, and cooled (or see the shortcut in the Author Notes)
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, sliced into rounds or chopped into chunks
  • 5 sprigs parsley, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 2 sprigs basil, torn into small pieces (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil, such as canola
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin-on
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil and add the lentils. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes (depending on the type). Drain. Note: You can cook these in advance if you want—just store in the fridge.
  2. Pulse the shallot, garlic, and a pinch of salt in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the olives and pulse until roughly chopped. Add the olive oil, orange zest, vinegar, chile flakes, and pulse to combine. Taste the olive relish and add salt if desired.
  3. Combine the lentils, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, eggs, and herbs (if you’re using them) in a large bowl. Dress with a big glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a couple grinds of black pepper.
  4. Blot the salmon dry and season liberally with salt. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat until almost smoking. Place the fish, skin-side down, in the hot oil (be careful, it will spit and splatter). With a spatula, press the fish down, ensuring good contact between the skin and the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and sear until the skin is golden brown and the fish releases from the pan easily, 4 to 5 minutes. When the skin is fully seared, turn off the heat and gently flip the filets to lightly sear the flesh until the salmon is cooked to medium, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Divide the green bean salad between four plates. Nestle the salmon next to the salad, skin-side up. Spoon the olive relish over the salmon and salad, and serve.

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