As I've complained before, it's hard to find good salmon in Minnesota. I know, we're in the middle of the country, about as far from any ocean as you can get in North America. It's an unimportant problem. My not-terribly-local solution is that I buy wild salmon filets online from VitalChoice, the king salmon to be specific, and they are fabulous. We don't have them often, because they're dear, but I'm OK with that. Better infrequently awesome than reguarly lame. True.
The inspiration for this salad is two-fold. It began with a gorgeous photo in one of my favorite cookbooks, Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin. The picture captures a long, colorful tangle of a wild salmon salad, studded with beets, potato, egg, and fresh herbs, drizzled with a tart mustard vinaigrette. I'd tucked the recipe into the back of my mind until I saw Jaden Hair's mouth-watering post - on her wildly popular blog Steamy Kitchen - of a Marcus Samuelsson-inspired open-faced salmon sandwich with sweet mustard sauce. Check out that sandwich - amazing, right? (Side note: remember Marcus, owner/chef of Aquavit, Minneapolis-version RIP 2003? He's still one of the top chefs in the country, still running Aquavit NYC, and is preparing to open a new Harlem restaurant called Red Rooster. Man do I miss our Aquavit, sigh. My sister Stacey worked there when it opened. As a result, we celebrated my brother David's 21st birthday at the chef's table in the kitchen. Top five meals of my life, blew my mind a little bit.)
Anyhow, back to cooking at home. Sorry to break that Aquavit-reminiscing bubble, but reality is...real. Seven years real, wow. Anyhow, if you put your hands on decent salmon, you'll be delighted with this salad. It hits all the important notes - hot/cool, crunchy/creamy, salty/sweet. You'll demolish it, as John and I did. Destroy it. Yeah. It's got it all going on, all good, deliciously healthy. Bonus: It's easy to put together and is so pretty that it's worthy of sharing with others.
I can't believe that I'm saying this, and perhaps take note that I am, but I wish you Minnesota's gorgeous weather for your holiday weekend. How often does that happen?
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced fresh dill
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. capers, drained
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
Four-4 oz. salmon filets
2 large eggs
1/2 lb. new potatoes
3 cups greens (spinach, arugula, or a combination of the two)
1/2 c. quartered cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot, peeled & sliced thin
1 avocado, pitted and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
Heat grill. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Smear a few teaspoons of olive oil over both sides of salmon filets and sprinkle both sides lightly with salt. Set aside.
Fill a large saucepan with cold water. Add 2 tsp. of salt, then potatoes and eggs. Set uncovered over high heat. When water boils, turn heat to low. Simmer potatoes and eggs for 10 minutes; when timer goes off, transfer eggs to a bowl of cool water. Continue simmering potatoes until tender, another 10 minutes or so (test with a fork; when fork pierces easily, potatoes are done).
Remove potatoes from water and let sit at room temperature. Grill salmon, depending on how hot your grill is, and how thick your filets are, 2-4 minutes per side (you want slightly under-done salmon; it will continue cooking as it sets up). Transfer salmon to a cutting board and let rest while you assemble the salad.
Spread greens over a large platter. Quarter potatoes and scatter over greens. Top with tomatoes, shallots, and avocado. Peel and quarter the eggs and arrange over the greens. Spoon half the dressing over the salad. Break apart the warm salmon into 2-inch pieces and arrange over the greens. Top with the remaining dressing. Serve immediately.