Lunchbox Meal: Grilled Salmon Niçoise Salad

“Niçoise.” You may have seen the word previously on a menu, but are not entirely sure how to pronounce it. Niçoise (pronounced “nee-swahz”) is a classic French dish often found in European Bistros and adored by culinarians around the world. Although you can find more traditional iterations that only use cooked tuna and raw vegetables, this is a more nouveau take with grilled salmon, boiled eggs, and blanched vegetables. Some briny olives and capers add salty interest, while the tangy lemon vinaigrette packs the punch.

Feel free to play around with the vegetables you choose to dress up this salad, like adding tomatoes for a more traditional approach. I used Castelvetrano olives, mostly because I really enjoy their briney flavor, but salty anchovies would be a great punch of flavor.

Grilled Salmon Niçoise Salad

Makes 5 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Side of Atlantic Salmon (skin on preferred)
  • Cattleman’s Grill Ranchero Seasoning, as needed
  • 5 Mini seedless cucumbers, cut into large bite-size pieces
  • 12 oz Green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1.5 lbs petite fingerling potatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • 10 oz Castelvetrano Olives (although you can substitute your preferred kind)
  • Capers, for garnish
  • Kosher salt (for blanching vegetables)
  • Fresh cracked black pepper, for garnish

Lemon Vinaigrette:

Instructions

Grilled Salmon:

Preheat your grill for medium-high heat, or 475 degrees if using a pellet smoker. Clean your side of salmon, ensuring it is free of pin bones and scales. Using a filet knife or chef’s knife, cut the salmon filet into 5 – 6 portions, depending on the size of the filet.

Generously season the flesh with Ranchero Seasoning. The skin will not need seasoning, but will add more flavor and maneuverability on the grill if left on.

Place the salmon filets skin-side down in an area of the grill that promotes indirect cooking. This means away from the heat source. So either on an upper secondary shelf or further away from hot coals. Cook the salmon skin side down for five minutes, then flip to finish cooking. Once the salmon has reached an internal temperature of 150 degrees, pull from grill, and set aside on a plate to cool in the fridge.

Lemon Vinaigrette:

Measure dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper into a large bowl and whisk together. Add olive oil in a slow, thin stream while whisking constantly to emulsify. Conversely, it is possible to combine all the ingredients together with a blender to create an emulsion.

Blanched Vegetables:

Bring a large pot of heavily-salted water to a rapid boil. Drop in the trimmed green beans all at once and allow them to cook in the water until the water begins to boil rapidly again. Take the green beans out of the water and transfer to an ice bath to chill.

Place all the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Heavily salt the water. Bring potatoes and salted water to a boil and continue to cook until just fork-tender, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer potatoes to an ice bath and reserve until cooled.

Medium-Boiled Eggs:

Place the eggs in a medium pot and submerge them in lukewarm water. (No salt or baking soda in the water!) Bring the eggs to a boil over medium high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and let them cook for just 5 minutes more. Once that time is up, place them into ice water to cool immediately. Once they are absolutely and completely cooled, peel them under water.

Salad Assembly:

Place your cooled blanched vegetables, cut cucumbers, and peeled eggs together in a bowl. Remove skin and flake your salmon filet. Hold salmon and vinaigrette separately from the vegetables until ready to eat for maximum freshness. Enjoy!

 

Try some other lunchtime meals featuring grilled salmon: Grilled Salmon Grain Bowl or Grilled Salmon Salad with Magic Tahini Dressing

 

 

The foundation to my version of this salad uses the blanching as a main technique. Blanching vegetables is a great way to extend the life of certain vegetables, while maintaining great flavor and color. It works best with hardy vegetables such as green beans, potatoes, asparagus, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower.

If you are using potatoes in this recipe, it’s best to use a thin-skinned, waxy type, such as these petite fingerlings.

These green beans already came free of the tough fiber that runs along its spine. For ease of eating, I opted to trim the tough ends and cut them in half before blanching.

My technique for this is to place the eggs in a medium pot and submerge them in lukewarm water. (No salt or baking soda in the water!) Then I’ll bring the eggs to a boil over medium high heat. Once the water is boiling, I reduce the heat and let them cook for just 5 minutes more. Once that time is up, I place them into ice water to cool immediately. Once they are absolutely and completely cooled, then I will peel them under water.

The dressing is so simple! Place fresh-squeezed lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking vigorously. I think the secret to really good dressings are just having really good ingredients on hand, such as this Saica Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Reida Farm HoneyThis lemon vinaigrette is so easy, yet also versatile! I use this same recipe to go with a Grilled Salmon Grain Bowl.

To prep the salmon, the first thing you’ll want to do is ensure you have a sharp knife. I prefer a Shun 6″ boning or filet knife when working with certain cuts of meat, but a chef’s knife such as a Wusthof 8″ Classic IKON chef’s knife would also work. I use one whole side of skin-on salmon for this recipe, although it works well without skin, if you prefer. The skin will add a depth of flavor and make it easier to flip on a grill (in case you’re worried about that).

Make sure to look over your filet to ensure it is free of pin bones or scales. Remove any bones with tweezers, and missed scales with the back of a knife.

Cut your side of salmon into five clean portions, appropriately sized for lunch. The tail-end tends to be much thinner than the rest of the filet, so make sure to give yourself a larger cut on that side.

Here I got five clean filets, plus a little end piece that I like to call a “chef snack.” A “chef snack” is the reward you give yourself for all the hard work that goes into prepping meals. I seasoned them liberally with Cattleman’s Grill Ranchero Seasoning, a versatile rub with bold garlic, herb, and lemon flavor.

Once seasoned, they’re ready to grill! Here at All Things BBQ, we have access to use many types of grills, but I tend to cook on the Yoder Smokers 640s pellet grill with ACS. Here I’ve loaded it with BBQrs Delight apple wood pellets and preheated my grill to 475 degrees F.

Place the salmon on the upper shelf, skin-side down. Close the grill lid and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes, or until you begin to get those characteristic grill marks.

Flip the salmon once and continue cooking with the lid closed, another 5-8 minutes. To ensure it is properly cooked, I like to use an instant read thermometer, like the Yoder Smokers Maverick PT-75. Fully-cooked fish should have an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees F. If you get much past 160 degrees F, you risk drying out your fish.

Placed the cooked salmon on grill and you can either serve it hot, or if you prefer to eat later for lunch, cool it in the fridge.

Once the salmon has cooled, I’ll remove the skin from the filet and flake it. You don’t necessarily have to do it this way, it’s just what I prefer.

There you have it! A perfectly healthy lunch packed and ready to go! If you enjoy being this healthy for lunch, you should definitely check out our other Lunchbox Meals!

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