Leave it to the Barefoot Contessa to make a salad feel like a party. Ina Garten’s nicoise salad is a nod to the classic with, of course, a Barefoot Contessa spin or two. The celebrity chef barely does any cooking, and an hour later, she has a salad fit for a party or a quiet night at home.
Ina Garten’s nicoise salad ‘takes a bit of work,’ according to the Food Network star
The Barefoot Contessa’s all about making entertaining easy but even she admits her nicoise salad requires some work.
“This takes a bit of work in advance, but only needs ‘assembling’ before guests arrive,” she wrote in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. “The ingredients are simple, but the presentation makes it feel like a party.”
Even though it requires some preparation Garten’s nicoise salad is still a simple and easy dish to make. As Garten explained, this isn’t necessarily one of those instances where she follows the recipe exactly.
“Use your imagination to think of other Provencal ingredients you like and add them to the platter,” she said.
How to make the Barefoot Contessa’s Roasted Salmon Nicoise Platter
Formally known as Roasted Salmon Nicoise Platter, Garten’s nicoise salad is essentially a deconstructed version of the original. The major difference is she puts a Barefoot Contessa spin on it by swapping out the traditional tuna for salmon.
So how is Garten’s nicoise salad made? According to Food Network, while the oven heats to 500 degrees Fahrenheit Garten makes a marinade out of lemon, garlic, and dijon mustard that will sit on the salmon for about 15 minutes before it roasts.
While the salmon’s soaking up the flavors of the marinade Garten gets to work on the other elements of the salad. She boils Yukon gold potatoes and blanches haricots verts, “a French string bean you can really find anywhere.”
As Garten explained, putting the haricots verts in a bowl of ice water after boiling them for a few minutes not only “stops the cooking” but also “sets the color and makes sure they stay crisp.”
Then the salmon goes in the oven where the “high heat caramelizes the top.” Once it’s done cooking, Garten lets the salmon rest while she makes a vinaigrette, something the Barefoot Contessa host thinks everyone should know how to do.
Finally, she arranges everything on a platter and drizzles it with the vinaigrette. “This is really a classic salad nicoise,” Garten said. “It’s just done with roasted salmon. Rather than tuna, I think it has so much more flavor.”
The Food Network star’s tips on making nicoise salad
Now for some tips on making Garten’s nicoise salad from the Barefoot Contessa herself. “Here’s my foolproof hard-boiled egg trick,” Garten said on her cooking show. “Bring the water up to a boil, turn off the heat, leave the eggs in for five minutes exactly.”
“Then take them out and let them cool at room temperature for two minutes and then peel them.” The result is hard-boiled eggs that are “perfect every time” with “no dark circles around the yolks.”
Garten uses her perfect potato salad trick to get perfectly cooked potatoes. She boils the potatoes and then leaves them to steam under a kitchen towel. Another tip? Use “good dijon mustard” because, according to Garten, it’s “essential.”
Lastly, a note on arranging the food. “The key about a big platter is just big blocks of color. You don’t want a little here and a little there,” she said. “You want big blocks of color.”