Spring is such a good time of year for salad lovers like myself. It offers up the best tender young greens . A new favorite, watercress – is the real star of this salad. A Scandinavian twist on the classic Nicoise – this Nordic Nicoise Salad is made with smoked salmon (or smoked trout or lox) with peppery, delicious watercress as the base. Topped with spring radishes, new potatoes, snap peas, shaved fennel, cucumber ribbons and lots of dill, it’s fresh and alive and very springy. Instead of olives, I’ve used capers and pickled onions and added horseradish to the Nicoise Dressing, kicking it up a notch. Hearty, delicious and light, this salad is dinner-worthy, and comes together easily, making it perfect for company.
It’s also very pretty. Sprinkle the salad with edible flowers – like chive blossoms or nasturtiums, and feel your creative spirit soar. I kid you not….taking the time to make your food “pretty” is a gift you give to yourself. This simple act brings so much joy into the kitchen and into cooking process. Give it a whirl and see how energized you feel.
I was inspired to make this recipe for my friend, Tonya, who gave me fresh eggs the other day and who also happens to be on the “salad diet.” This is the diet that happens after spending two weeks in Italy eating an absurd amount of pasta and gelato, which we did so well together with our friend, Jill. I’m not sure the salad diet is really an actual “thing” – just mostly a conscious decision to eat lighter, veggie-based salads for a short while.
The dressing is light as well, made with olive oil, champagne vinegar (or lemon), whole grain mustard, shallot, dill and horseradish. It’s flavorful and compliments the watercress and smokiness of the fish.
To start, steam your vegetables – steam the baby potatoes and add the snap peas to same pot for the last-minute. Drain and cool. Boil the eggs. Prep and cut the veggies. Whisk up the dressing. Then, when it’s time to serve – just assemble.
The great thing is the fish is already cooked here, so this will save time. I love using smoked fish in this salad, but salmon lox and even pickled herring taste great too. Other canned fish works too if in a pinch – of course, tuna – but you could also try something different like smoked sardines. Raid your pantry and see what you have. If vegetarian, substitute fish with hearty cannellini beans or baked or smoked tofu.
Load the salad up with veggies, blanching those first that need it and leaving some raw and crunchy. To make the cucumber ribbons, simple shave with a veggie peeler.
Eggs can be hard-boiled or soft-boiled.
Sprinkle with dill and chive blossoms….or use nasturtiums!
Serve with toasted rye bread, or rye crisp…..and enjoy your beautiful, healthy creation!Print
A Scandinavian twist on the classic nicoise salad- Nordic Nicoise Salad with smoked fish ( salmon, trout, sardines) or Pickled Herring, with a fresh spring veggies and horseradish spiked nicoise dressing.
- 8 baby potatoes
- 2 eggs (optional), boiled to your liking
- 1 cup snap peas
- 1–2 Turkish cucumbers (or use English)
- ½ fennel bulb, shaved (optional)
- 4–6 radishes
- 1 bunch watercress
- 6 ounces smoked trout, smoked salmon, lox, pickled herring or smoked/cooked sardines (or sub cannellini beans or baked/smoked tofu for a vegetarian option)
- 1 tablespoon capers
- fresh dill
- Other optional additions: pickled red onions, fresh sprouts, chive blossoms, nasturtium petals, sliced avocado, blanched green beans or other veggies, a dollop of plain yogurt, toasted rye croutons, or rye crisp, crumbled.
- Nordic Nicoise Dressing:
- ¼ cup olive oil or grape seed oil
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper (or black)
- 1–2 teaspoons fresh grated or prepared horseradish
- pinch sugar
- Place the baby potatoes in a pot of water and boil, then simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Add the snap peas in the same water during the last minute to quickly blanch. Drain. Rinse under cold water.
- At the same time boil the eggs, either soft or hard – your preference. Peel and halve.
- While the eggs are boiling, stir the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl with a fork, tasting and adjusting.
- Prep the veggies. Using a veggie peeler, shave the cucumber into ribbons (or just slice into rounds)
- Slice the radishes, slice the fennel.
- Assemble the salads. Lay a bed of watercress on the bottom of two bowls. Top with cucumbers, radish, fennel, fish, eggs, pickled onions, capers and fresh dill. Scatter blossoms around the top. Feel the joy 😉
- Dress the salad right before serving.
- Add a dollop of yogurt for extra richness if you like…. and serve with rye crisp.