For French Mustard Vinaigrette
This refreshing, colorful dish is perfect to cook on a weeknight, especially if you’re craving a light meal that is packed with flavor and protein. Featuring a traditional niçoise salad with olives, grape tomatoes, and soft-boiled eggs, the savory baked salmon is served alongside a homemade French mustard vinaigrette.
This dish’s ingredients complement each other in a way that is delightful and satisfying. With a short prep time and fun display, this dish is perfect for groups or can be portioned out for weekly meal prep. Read on for Chef Dana Venuto’s recipe.
What Is Niçoise?
Niçoise is most commonly associated with a similar recipe we’re sharing here: a salad with tomatoes, olives, eggs, anchovies, and tuna or salmon. However, the origin of the word is meant to encapsulate much more than a single dish: Niçoise is derived from a French phrase that means “of Nice” or “in the style of Nice,” which is a city in France. This term or phrase is meant to highlight the ingredients used in the region, which are typically tomatoes, olives, garlic, eggs, and fish. A Niçoise salad is therefore a complete embodiment of the prominent flavors cherished in the cuisine of the magical French city of Nice.
How Is This Salad Different?
While there are variations to a classic niçoise salad, they all typically incorporate the same staple ingredients. Some recipes use anchovies or tuna — but we’re sticking to salmon, as its savory flavor and healthy fats will complement the dish without overpowering it. We’re also whipping up a homemade mustard vinaigrette with tones of honey and red wine vinegar that will add an additional burst of flavor to bring the dish together.
Baking vs. Pan Frying
While salmon is commonly cooked on a pan, the benefits of baking it are subtle. In fact, they go a long way in the manner of flavor and health. Although pan-frying is often quicker, baking allows for a richer, fuller marinating taste. There is also typically more oil involved when cooking in a pan whereas baking requires little to sometimes no oil at all.
While oil isn’t necessarily bad — and offers its own health benefits by way of healthy fat — it can sometimes be sneaky by adding up extra calories. When you bake salmon instead of pan-frying it, it’s a surefire way to get all the healthy oils and protein without accidentally adding unnecessary fat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While oven is heating up, start preparing the vinaigrette. Combine the red wine vinegar, mustard, shallots, honey, olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix well.
Bring two pans or pots to a boil — one for the eggs and one for the green beans. Poach the green beans by bringing salted water to medium heat. Cover until green beans are tender. Then let them sit and cool. Boil eggs until soft.
Cover salmon fillets in the homemade French mustard vinaigrette, and place on a parchment paper-covered baking tray. Place in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Combine the mixed greens with tomatoes, olives, green beans, eggs, and lemon wedges. Feel free to add extra of your favorites. Place the baked salmon in the center of the salad and top it off with capers and an additional vinaigrette drizzle. Enjoy!