When I was looking for an interesting meal idea last week, I turned to the summer chapter of Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I found this Nicoise-style salad that could be made with several things I had on hand with just a few minor changes. First, in the book, it’s made with grilled halibut, but I used wild salmon instead. The dish also includes haricots verts, cherry tomatoes, and fingerling potatoes. I had different versions of each of those vegetables from my CSA and the farmers’ market. I received green beans last month, and they had been steamed and frozen, so I thawed them rather than buying haricots verts. I had bought local, yellow pear tomatoes, and I had just received some pretty, purple potatoes in my last CSA box. The tomatoes were to be sauteed in anchovy butter, and my stash of salt-packed anchovies came in handy as did my homegrown basil and thyme. This meal had all the components of a standard Nicoise salad, but the elements were tweaked in ways that added great flavor.
First, the fish was seasoned with lemon zest and thyme and then grilled which was flavor-boost one. Next, the potatoes were roasted rather than boiled, boost number two. The cooked green beans and roasted potatoes were sauteed in olive oil with shallots and then tossed with spinach, olives, and lemon juice. Eggs were soft-boiled here which left them extremely tender and lovely. Last, the tomatoes were warmed and softened with melted butter and minced anchovy. The buttery tomatoes became a sauce that was spooned over the grilled fish which sat on top of the spinach salad, and it was crowned with sliced green and opal basil.
Nicoise salad has always been a favorite meal kind of salad of mine, but this one was a cut above the usual. The roasted potatoes with bits of surface crunch and the added shallot, olive oil flavor and the sweet, salty bite of bursting tomatoes in warm anchovy butter elevated this version. And, the soft-boiled eggs were rich and a little delicate and just seemed special. Yes, this was a very good way to make a Nicoise salad.