Cedar-Planked Salmon Salade Niçoise

One of my very favorite meals come summertime is Salade Niçoise. I love to make a large platter and serve it family style, and I could eat the leftovers for days. It’s really something I never get tired of, and especially lovely to enjoy on warm evenings on the patio with a bottle of wine. Before my mom left earlier this week, she made the most delicious riff on traditional Niçoise—in place of the tuna, she grilled cedar-planked salmon, seasoned with lemon, thyme and pepper. It was pretty incredible and honestly this untraditional version is my new favorite. This salad also gets my vote with a Kalamata vinaigrette and crisp fennel added to the mix. Keep reading for the recipe, and I hope you’ll give it a try for yourself this summer!

Cedar-Planked Salmon Salade Niçoise

For the salmon:

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 2-lb boneless, skin-on salmon fillets
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

Soak the cedar planks in water to cover for at least 1 hour. Drain the planks. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, thyme, sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until the zest is distributed throughout. Rub the salmon fillets on both sides with the olive oil, then set each fillet skin side down on a plank. Sprinkle the fillets with the lemon-pepper mixture, dividing it evenly. Gently rub the seasoning into the fillets. Let stand at room temperature while the grill heats. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire with high heat for indirect cooking. On a gas grill, heat all burners on high; then turn off all but one burner just before cooking the salmon. On a charcoal grill, bank the coals to two opposite sides of the grill. Arrange the planks over the cooler part of the grill, positioning them so the thickest part of the fish is closest to the heat source. Cover the grill and cook until the thickest part of each fillet registers about 135°F on an instant-read thermometer, 20-35 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. The planks may smoke a bit (this is fine) and will become very aromatic. Let the fillets rest on the planks for 5-10 minutes before serving.

For the vinaigrette:

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and minced (about 1/4 cup)
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 medium clove garlic, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

3/4 lb. baby red potatoes, cut into quarters
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 medium fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half
2 cups mixed greens
Cedar-planked salmon, skin removed, cut into pieces

In a small bowl, combine the oil, olives, vinegar, garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. Put the potatoes in a 4-quart saucepan, cover with 2 quarts water, add 1 tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer gently until the potatoes are just tender when poked with a skewer, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl (save the cooking liquid).

Whisk the vinaigrette to recombine, drizzle 2 tablespoons of it over the potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Bring the water in the saucepan back to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. Drop the green beans into the boiling water and cook until bright green and no longer raw but still very crisp, 1-2 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander and plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and spread the beans on a clean dishtowel to dry. When the potatoes have cooled, add the green beans, tomatoes, onion, fennel, and all but 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, add the mixed greens to bowls. Arrange green beans, tomatoes, onion, fennel on top. Top with the egg slices and salmon. Drizzle with extra vinaigrette and top with fennel fronds.

*Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

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