Month after month, Martha Stewart Living takes us into the spectacularly photogenic homes of equally photogenic families. They share Martha’s passion for the domestic arts in their wonderfully curated and art directed living spaces. And there is always a prominently featured menu item that is just as beautiful as its creators and their settings. So it was with this dish: a riff on the French classic Salade Niçoise, a spectacle of tuna, haricots verts, tiny potatoes and hard cooked eggs. Here, in her Shelter Island kitchen, a woman named Harriet Maxwell Macdonald Corrie came up with what was described as ‘a reliable crowd pleaser’. It certainly pleased us, even if the crowd was all of four people enjoying a Sunday lunch together. I didn’t follow Ms. Corrie’s recipe to the absolute letter but in spirit this is her wonderful salad.
Putting this together takes about an hour and it’s an hour well-spent. Our weekend houseguests were two very dear old friends, the kind you can send merrily on their way to tour all by themselves. Off they went to Montauk while Andrew and I got lunch together. Seafood prices this summer are staggering, with the notable exception of salmon. I chose Norwegian farmed fish knowing that Norway has one of the finest sustainable salmon farming systems in the world. The original recipe called for the salmon to be grilled. I am as fond of my grill pan as I am of any grill. So I used that. The recipe also suggested grilling the snap peas. I much preferred blanching them in lots of highly salted water so they keep their incredible green color. I don’t want to give my anchovy sermon yet again, but please do not be put off by this ingredient. I found a way to puree the filets so they are almost like the salt in the dressing. Finally, I used an organic salad mix in lieu of the watercress Ms. Corrie used. That was purely a matter of personal preference. Feel free to substitute watercress if you like. Here is the recipe as I adapted it:
1. Mash anchovies with a spoon in a small bowl. Add mustard and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup oil. Season with salt and pepper. At this point, I used an immersion blender to completely integrate the anchovies into the dressing. If you do not have one, you can do this in the blender or food processor.
2. Cover potatoes with 2 inches water in a pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until knife-tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Let stand until cool enough to handle, then halve potatoes.
3. Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high. Brush salmon lightly with oil, sprinkle with zest and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Brush grill with oil, then place salmon on grill, skin-side down. Cook until skin is crisp and browned, about 6 minutes a side for medium-rare, 8 minutes a side for medium. Remove from grill.
4. Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove. Salt this water heavily. Put the trimmed snap peas in the water and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove snap peas and run them briefly under cold water. Set aside.
6. Pour half of dressing into a serving bowl. Add potatoes; toss to coat. Place salad mix or watercress on serving platter. Put the potatoes around the side of the platter. Flake salmon into large pieces; add to center of the platter. Top with eggs and peas and serve, with remaining dressing on the side. A crusty loaf of French bread is a nice addition to this meal.