RECIPE: Spring Niçoise Salad

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Watercress makes a nice salad base in the spring, especially if you can pick it fresh in the wild near running streams. Considered a super food — loaded with iron, calcium, fiber and vitamins — watercress is among the top 10 healthiest vegetables. If watercress is unavailable, arugula, baby kale, or spring lettuce mixes you find at local farmers’ stands all work great for this spring dinner for family or guests. Fish markets often sell roasted salmon, bluefish or trout. It’s chunky and slightly smoked — and very convenient to add to a salad. It is NOT the cured, thinly sliced salmon. Use this go-to lemon herb dressing for any spring or summer dinner salad. Serves 4 – 6.

Ingredients

Small roasting potatoes or fingerlings, scrubbed

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 small bunch of asparagus, rinsed and woody bottoms removed

1 can of artichoke hearts, rinsed and dried (optional)

6 cups watercress or other spring baby salad greens

1 or 2 endives, cored and thinly sliced

1 or 2 packages smoke roasted salmon (not the smoked salmon slices), broken into chunks

1 cucumber or avocado, peeled, halved and sliced

1/4 red onion, cut into slivers

1/2 cup approximately pitted nicoise olives or calamata, or your favorite olive

Feta cheese, to taste

Lemon Herb Dressing

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons maple syrup or raw honey

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, basil, dill or chives (a combination of herbs is nice!)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375. 
  2. Slice potatoes in half and mix well with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for easy cleanup and bake until easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Mix once or twice while baking. Set aside.
  3. Peel the asparagus, if desired. Mix well with the other tablespoon of oil and spread out one side of a baking sheet with parchment. On the other side, add the artichoke hearts, drizzle with olive oil. Add the sheet pan with asparagus and artichokes to oven where potatoes are baking and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the asparagus is done, depending on the thickness. Pierce with a fork and test a piece by eating. Set aside.
  4. Prepare your salad platter. Put the watercress or other spring greens on the platter. Place all the ingredients in sections: the roasted salmon, cucumber or avocado, red onion, olives, feta, roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus and roasted artichokes.
  5. Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together. Pass at the table. Remind people to mix the dressing a little before spooning onto the salad. Be generous with the dressing – it ties the salad together.

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Catherine Walthers
Catherine Walthers is a freelance writer and author of four cookbooks. “Now that I’ve learned to grow my own microgreens, my goal for 2021 is not to buy another plastic laundry or dish detergent container, thanks in part to my discovery of GoGo Refill in Portland, Maine.”

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