Salmon Nicoise Salad

Salmon Nicoise Salad

Nice was the best place that we visited in France many moons ago.

I loved it more than Paris. The mediterranean coast, beaches, little villages perched on edge of cliffs like eagles nest, the azure blue of the sea, balmy weather and  not to mention the wonderful food. Italian infused French food with a hearty dose of fresh seasonal vegetables. Food really doesn’t get better than this.

For the 3 days that we spent in the southern France coastal town, we ate either on little sidewalk cafe’s or in Farmers market. Socca for breakfast, salads for lunch and pesto pizza or pesto with little clams for dinner. The fresh tasting pesto, olive oil and vegetables had us from the get go.

Salmon Nicoise Salad

This is my attempt to make a Niçoise Salad inspired by the trip ages ago.

A little bit like American Chop salad, Niçoise Salad is made up of tomatoes, olives, hard-boiled eggs, fresh glanced vegetables ( like beans and Asparagus) , new potatoes and tuna. The dressing is simple french vinaigrette with olive oil, garlic and mustard. Instead of using tuna and anchovies as is traditional, I kept the salad vegetarian ( so my vegetarian mom could join in as well) and served it with tinfoil baked Salmon. Hands down the best way to cook Salmon; especially for a crowd.

Salmon Nicoise Salad

The lemony Salmon paired well with the tangy Salad’s vinaigrette.

The salad though easy to prepare requires multiple steps for various ingredients, but is a stunner once done. Don’t be daunted as it is easy to get hang of it.Blanching the vegetables and boiling the eggs  while the Salmon and potatoes bake make it faster to cook. Served family style on a platter, this is a beautiful salad that everyone can enjoy.

Try it with Spring beans, Asparagus, Fava beans this Spring to make the most of the primavera! 

The colors of the salad and the taste are enough to put you into Spring mood 🙂

Salmon Nicoise Salad

 Salmon Niçoise Salad Recipe

Serves 4

For the Salmon 

  • 1 lb Salmon Fillet, with skin on.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic finely diced
  • 8 – 10 thin lemon slices
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)

For the Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon french stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon sherry vinaigrette
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Salad 

  • 1 Quart pot of water
  • 1 bunch of Asparagus
  • 1/2 bunch of French beans ( about 1/2 – 3/4 lb)
  • 4 small red potatoes, halved (or quartered) and tossed in 1 teaspoon olive oil and salt and pepper ( to taste).
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup olives
  • 4 eggs hard-boiled, peeled and halved.
  • 8- 10 baby tomatoes sliced in half

1. Wash the Salmon under cold water and pat dry. Rub olive oil on both sides of the fillet. Sprinkle garlic, salt and pepper on both sides and lightly rub them into the Fish filet.

2. Take a large enough aluminum foil (twice the size of the fish to create a pocket). Lay 4 – 5 lemon slices on the foil.

Layer the fish fillet on the lemon slices. Layer remaining lemon slices on top. Sprinkle cilantro (or parsley) on the lemon slices.

Set aside for 15 minutes to marinate.

3. Set the pot of water to boil. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.

4. Make the vinaigrette by whisking all the ingredients listed together in a bowl till well mixed. Set aside.

5. When the oven is pre-heated, cover the salmon and potatoes loosely with foil.  Crimp the edges to form a pocket.  Bake the entire foil pocket for 30 – 35 minutes till the fish is cooked ( flakes easily when pierced with a fork).

6. In the meantime, set the pot of water to boil.

When the water boils, blanch french beans and then asparagus for a couple of minutes each till bright green and tender.

Remove each with tongs in a separate bowl and wash them with cold water to prevent further cooking of the vegetables.

 To serve

  1. On a large platter, first layer the romaine lettuce.
  2. Then arrange the eggs, tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, olives and potatoes. Arrange Salmon on the platter along with lemon slices.
  3. Drizzle one tablespoon vinaigrette on the vegetables. Don’t toss. Serve remaining vinaigrette on the side in a bowl.
  4. Pass it along family style where everyone serves themselves with bit of veggies and the Salmon.

Enjoy the crisp vegetables , warm potatoes and flaky warm Salmon!

Cornmeal Pumpkin Anytime Muffins ( No Added Sugar or Butter!)

Cornmeal Pumpkin Muffins

I know, I know the last couple of recipes have been very indulgent. Creamy chocolate pudding and Dahi- Vada. What can I say, I really love them.

Cheese, whole milk, elaborate process, whisking. This recipe is an exact antidote to that.

One pot prep. Healthy. No added sugar. And Varun approved to boot.

Cornmeal, pumpkin and applesauce come together in these muffins to create a naturally sweetened muffin which is great for breakfast with eggs ( or just coffee), after school snack or with chili for dinner.

It has fiber, good carbs and protein.

And did I say no oil, sugar or butter.

They freeze well in an airtight container and are perfect to be made on weekend when your toddler naps or when he wants to help in the kitchen and you are ok with a little mess.

Microwave when needed for a minute for a healthy snack with a pat of peanut butter or as is.

Cornmeal Pumpkin Muffins

Cornmeal Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons sugar for dusting on top (optional, incase you need things to be a little sweet)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons chopped almonds, walnuts for crunchy topping.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with paper cups.

2. In the meantime, mix all the dry ingredients ( cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl or a stand mixer.

Dump pumpkin puree, applesauce and egg in the same bowl.

Mix well for couple of minutes ( by hand) or a minute, if using a mixer on low-speed.

3. Scoop the mixture in paper cups.

Dust with sugar. Sprinkle chopped nuts.

4. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes till a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy warm or frezee for later.

Healthy Veggie Loaded Artichoke Dip

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Need I say more?

Dips are something I cannot eat in moderation. Salsa’s and Hummus are ok. They can be had without restraint. Possibly some seven layer dips. But what about the warm cheesy dips? They are inviting and very scrumptious.

In restaurants, I manage to finish the dip as I eat it as is.

So much cheese can’t really be good for anyone in a single serving. But sometimes heart (or rather taste buds) don’t listen to your brain and then next think we know is that the dip bowl is empty! Now satisfaction kicks in. Later regret kicks in.

I needed something that was amazing to taste with no regrets.

That’s where a healthified artichoke Spinach dip came into picture.

Its full of veggies and using less cheese compared to traditional recipes. Thick Yogurt is what gives it extra creaminess and protein without the excess fat.

We topped it with finely diced bell pepper and ate them with veggies ( as well as multi grain toast fingers) for a filling afternoon snack.

It makes about 3 cups of dip and can be made ahead, frozen and then thawed before serving. We have a stash in our freeze for days when the baby arrives and we are hungry for “something fun/interesting”. It tastes yummy even as is out of the fridge.

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Healthy Veggie Loaded Artichoke Dip Recipe

Makes ~ 3 cups of dip

  • 1 can Artichoke hearts drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water removed
  • 1 cup milk , divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 goat cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper and red onion ( for Garnish)

1.  In a skillet, add artichoke hearts, spinach, 1/2 cup milk, garlic, cumin seeds and paprika. Mix well and let cook for a few minutes on medium-low heat.

2. Stir in the parmesan cheese and let cook for another 2-3 minutes till the cheese melts and is incorporated in the mixture.  Lower the heat if necessary. Once cooked, let cool for a couple of minutes.

3. In the meantime, in a bowl, whip greek yogurt with goat cheese. Set aside.

4. Once the artichoke-spinach mixture is cooled, blend it till desired consistency. I like the dip to be smooth with some chunks of artichoke. Skip this step if you like the dip to be chunky.

5. Add the yogurt – goat cheese mixture to the artichoke mixture. Add salt. Mix well.

6. Top with bell pepper and red onions.

Serve immediately or freeze for later use.

Crunchy Raddichio, Beans and Broccoli Salad In Soy Sriracha Dressing

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I was getting tired of the green salad recipes. I suppose Vipul was too so to mix things up a little, I made him a crunchy salad.

I had celery, broccoli, green beans and raddichio on hand. The last was an impulse buy. This is a winter vegetable. In season here in US. A new one to add to our routine. Its purple and white ribbed leaves are so beautiful. Tempting. Inviting.

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I didn’t really know what to do with it and was torn between roasting it and eating it as is. I ate one raw, and it was so bitter. I know based on my Indian cooking experience that if a vegetable is bitter, blanching it in water removes the bitterness. I decided to go with that approach.

Raddichio was chopped and soaked in hot water.

Broccoli and green beans were blanched in hot water.

Kidney beans were marinated.

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Everything was tossed in a soy sriracha dressing and served with salmon.

It was crunchy, flavorful, a little spicy and a little tangy.

Vipul was tired of chewing all the crunchy vegetables so if your guy is like him then serve it as a side rather than a main salad. I topped mine with cold soba noodles in sesame oil and let me tell you it was 100% yumm!

Will make this again, in a heart beat.

Note: Sriracha sauce has sugar in it. So if you are on no sugar diet, replace sriracha sauce with another hot sauce of your choice.

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Crunchy Raddichio, Beans and Broccoli Salad In Soy Sriracha Dressing Recipe

  • 1/2 head of raddichio thinly sliced (about 2 cups of sliced leaves)
  • 3 cups hot water + 2 cups water to blanch vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (use less if you want it to be little less spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly.
  • 1 1/2 cups brocoli chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup green beans diced
  • 1/2 cup celery diced

1. Soak the raddichio leaves in hot water for about 20 – 30 minutes to remove the bitterness from the leaves. Set aside.

2. Whisk together siracha, soy and sesame oil. Toss some of the dressing over the kidney beans. Set aside in a large bowl.

3. In the meantime, boil water in a saucepan. Once you have a rolling boil, blanch broccoli and green beans in hot boiling water till they turn bright green.

4. Once the vegetables are blanched, scoop them out and add them to the kidney beans bowl.

5. Drain the water from raddichio leaves and add the leaves and celery to the kidney beans – vegetables bowl. Add some more of the soy -siracha dressing.

Toss well. Taste and add more dressing as appropriate.

Serve immediately with grilled salmon or tofu.

Butternut Squash and Black Beans Burgers

Butternut Squash and Black bean burger

Taking a break from the desserts that I have been posting here lately, I wanted to share with you a recipe for a really tasty, sweet and spicy veggie burger. After all a little bit of spice is nice.

No, no, I hope I didn’t lose you at “veggie” or the “spicy” part. These are damn good vegetarian burgers. Vipul who doesn’t care for veggie burgers enjoyed them . Thats saying a lot! And hence the atypical second post for today.

Butternut Squash and Black bean burger

Butternut squash is so good for us – fiber, beta carotene, loaded with Vitamin A and C and even folate – it is a super food in itself. Pair it with black beans – a protein powerhouse- you have a healthy and filling burger. A can of black beans saves some hassle and roasting the squash brings out its natural sweetness. Paired with some chili powder, cumin and ginger, the patty dough is tasty as is.

Mustard and ketchup are the simple accompaniments to keep the focus on the flavors of the patty.

The best part, it can be made ahead and kept frozen for a quick weeknight healthy meal.

Give it a try this weekend. I guarantee even pickiest of eaters will love it.

Butternut Squash and Black bean burger

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Burgers Recipe

  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 + 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 inch knob of ginger root, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon green chili pepper finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil to fry the patties

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, cumin seeds, chili powder and salt. Bake for 30 mins till tender. It should be easy to mash them up with a spoon.

2. In the meantime, wash the black beans well and marinate them in lemon juice, ginger root, green chili pepper and salt. Set aside till the squash is done.

3. Remove the squash from the oven. Let it cool a bit. Mash it well with back of a spoon.

4. Mix the squash, black beans and bread crumbs. Taste and adjust seasonings. Shape into patties.

5. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the patties about a minute or two on each side taking care not to char them.

Serve them on sandwich or burger or in enchiladas or simply as is with a bit of mustard and ketchup!