When I was working my first “grown up” office job – sandwiched between the stress-slices of college years – I went through a tuna nicoise salad phase.
And although it sounds a little pretentious, I’ll confess it was just a combination of practicality (I had to be able to walk to a place that served food, order, eat and walk back within the limits of my lunch break) and a total phobia of dietary fat in all its forms. You see, back then, I was consumed with becoming smaller.
There’s quite an irony there, really.
So I found myself power walking (for the expediency & the exercise) to a little cafe chain that was both near enough I could fit it into that allotted time and yet far enough away from the office that I wouldn’t run into anybody else from work, what with me being the kid-intern, after all.
I’d drink black coffee, because no calories, and smoke cigarettes, because that was allowed in public back then & was also supposed to make me eat less… and I would order tuna nicoise salads that I’d eat without the fat-containing-dressing, because tuna was a safe protein in a place full of pastries and no one was scared of potatoes back then. Not even the girl who tried to limit her contact with food to the bare, necessary, absolute minimum.
(As I type this up, I realize that I have put aside so many other, similar-ly memory-bleached moments from my early semi-adult years. I remember not what brought me joy – which was little – but only the things I tried to avoid: meals I skirted, white lies told, foods I feared, people I pulled away from. A path towards feeling that I belonged was never going to come from that shame spiral, and yet I couldn’t see that with my face in that maze of self recrimination.)
The other day, I came across a salmon nicoise salad recipe and wondered why I’d never thought of that before. With what feels like its own lifetime of food fear behind me, how glorious the idea of tender, rich salmon in place of my memory shrine to dry tuna, alongside the typical briny olives and bubbles of caper berries that I remember with far more pleasure than the original protein.
Instead of haricots verts, I barely blanched tender-thin stems of asparagus; instead of the potatoes, I poached radishes down to a blushy pink. So this is accidentally on the low carb end of things, which isn’t usually my style, but it works beautifully with the richness of the salmon, especially if you swap in my Same Day Hot Smoked Salmon in place of the slow roasted salmon I use in the recipe below.
To really gild the lily a tad, because why the hell not, I finished off this salmon nicoise salad with some jammy soft boiled eggs.
You can make these however you like, but I’ve become a fan of throwing these in my Instant Pot lately, because it’s just so easy to bung ’em in and just come back when the timer dings. I set mine for 3 minutes on low pressure, followed by a quick release and an ice bath before peeling to get them like you see in these photos.
If you’re on the AIP, skip the eggs and omit the black pepper. Otherwise, the salmon nicoise salad is totally elimination phase friendly, as-is. Enjoy!Print
Slow Roasted Salmon Nicoise Salad with Poached Radishes & Asparagus
Switch things up with this springtime take on salmon nicoise salad from, featuring poached radishes, tender asparagus & a punchy lemon shallot dressing.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 1x
- Category: salad, dinner, lunch
- Method: oven, stovetop
For the slow roasted salmon:
- Four 6 oz / 170 g skin-on salmon fillets (see notes)
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml avocado oil or olive oil
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
For the salmon nicoise salad:
- A bunch of medium radishes, about 10 or so
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml avocado or olive oil
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 – 4 eggs, optional, omit for AIP
- 1/2 lb / 225 g thin asparagus spears
- Handful of lettuce leaves
- Thinly sliced English cucumber
- 1/2 cup / 80 g small black olives, like nicoise or kalamata
- 1/4 cup / 40 g rinsed salted capers
For the lemon shallot dressing:
- 1 flat anchovy fillet, optional
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml olive oil
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 large shallot, minced
- Salt & pepper, to taste (omit pepper for AIP)
SLOW ROAST: Preheat the oven to 275 F / 135 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the salmon fillets on the sheet, skin side down. Rub each fillet with a little of the avocado or olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 15 – 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets, until the fish is fork tender, just beginning to flake and still just lightly pink in the middle. (If you have a meat thermometer, you’ll want the internal temperature to be about 120 F / 49 C). Remove from the oven and let rest.
POACH: While the salmon is roasting, trim the radishes of their ends and cut them in half. Add the radishes to a small skillet, along with the oil and broth. Over low medium heat, cook the radishes, stirring a few times, until their color has faded to a dusty pink and they are lightly glazed & just barely fork tender but not soft, about 5 or 6 minutes. Remove from the heat.
SOFT BOIL: Set up an ice bath in your kitchen sink to cool the eggs down when they’re done, then make the eggs to your own preference. For these slightly jammy eggs, I set mine in the Instant Pot on a trivet and poured in 1 cup / 240 ml of water. Use the Low Pressure setting and cook for 3 minutes before doing a Quick Release. Carefully transfer the eggs to the ice bath and peel once they’re cool enough to handle.
BLANCH: Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Trim the asparagus of any tough ends, then add them to the boiling water. Cook until crisp but tender, about 60 – 90 seconds, then transfer to the ice bath to prevent the asparagus from overcooking. Once cool, lay the asparagus on a clean dish towel to absorb any excess water.
WHISK: Mash the anchovy with a fork until it’s broken up and almost like a paste. Add to a small bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil, a little at a time. Repeat with the lemon juice, then add the shallot and seasoning, to taste. (Don’t be tempted to blend the dressing together with an immersion blender, or similar. The results will be an overly thick, pink mess!)
ASSEMBLE: On a large platter, lay down the lettuce and sliced cucumber. Gently flake the salmon with a fork and add that next, adding the poached radishes, blanched asparagus, olives and capers. If you’re including the eggs, cut them in half and add them to the platter, too. Serve the dressing on the side so that people can dress their salmon nicoise, to taste.
You could also swap out the slow roasted salmon for my Same Day Hot Smoked Salmon.