Peppered Salmon Nicoise
The flavors of the south of France — fennel, tomatoes, garlic, olives, and basil — adorn a dish of salmon fillets coated with cracked pepper and served with a salad of curly endive.
- Vegetable Vinaigrette
- Garlic head - 1 whole, cloves separated and peeled
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon plus 1 cup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Plum (Roma) Tomatoes - 2, cored and seeded
- Fennel bulb - 1, cored, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- Haricots Verts - 4 ounces, or baby Blue Lake green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Red Bell Pepper - 1, seeded and deribbed
- Yellow Bell Pepper - 1, seeded and deribbed
- Fennel Seeds - 1 tablespoon
- Balsamic Vinegar - 6 tablespoons
- Fresh Chives - 1 tablespoon, snipped
- Kalamata olives - 1 cup, pitted
- Basil leaves - 1/2 cup, cut into fine shreds
- Peppered Salmon
- Salmon fillets - four, 3-ounce
- Salt to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper - 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Frisee (Curly Endive) - 1 head, leaves separated
- Fresh Basil Leaves - 1/2 cup, cut into fine shreds
To prepare the vegetable vinaigrette: Preheat the oven to 225 F. Coat the garlic cloves with the tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a pie tin and roast uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes, or until soft and golden brown. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan of boiling lightly salted water, blanch the tomatoes for about 20 seconds. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon, drop into ice water to cool, and remove from the ice water with a slotted spoon. Peel, seed, and set aside. In the same pan of boiling water, blanch the fennel and the beans for 30 seconds, then drop into ice water. Drain. Neatly dice the tomatoes and peppers into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Lightly crush the fennel seeds in a mortar with a pestle or grind for a few seconds in a spice grinder or a well-washed coffee grinder. Spread out on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 1 minute, or until they are aromatic. In a medium bowl, whisk together the fennel seeds, 1 cup olive oil, and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the diced vegetables, chives, olives, and roasted garlic. Toss together and add the basil.
To prepare the salmon: Sprinkle the salmon on both sides with salt and press the cracked pepper into the flesh. In a large saute pan or skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil and cook the fish 1 minute on the first side, then turn and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. The fish should remain rare in the center.
To serve: On each serving plate, mound some of the frisee to one side and place 1 piece of salmon on the opposite side. Spoon some of the vinaigrette and vegetables around and over the greens and the salmon. Garnish with the basil.