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Salmon Niçoise With Orzo

Salmon Niçoise With Orzo
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With the bright flavors and great looks of a Salade Nicoise, cooking salmon was never easier.

This Salmon Nicoise is a stellar recipe! It is unbelievably simple–especially considering the results. It’s a one-pot wonder, a gorgeous presentation that puts so much color on each plate. And this cooking technique taught me something invaluable about cooking salmon with the skin on. Steamed atop the orzo and haricots verts, the skin literally peels off once the salmon is cooked! It’s a recipe from Ali Slagle. (More on Ms. Slagle follows). Ms. Slagle suggests this as an all-year-long dish. We resurrected Sunday lunch with this dish.  As we head into Lent, those of us who observe may find this a perfect way to entertain at dinner as well. It takes all of 35 minutes to make.

How to Make Salmon Nicoise with Orzo

Aside from its undeniable visual appeal, this is a wonderful mix of textures. The Orzo comes first. Mixed with shallots and, if you are using them, olives, the Orzo is the bed for the rest of the dish. You mix in the green beans with the almost-cooked Orzo and top the mixture with the salmon filets. And while this is cooking, covered on the stovetop, you make a great tomato salad laced with a vinaigrette of Red Wine vinegar, shallots, Dijon mustard, and just a tablespoon of Olive Oil.  As mentioned, once the salmon is cooked, it’s easy-peasy to remove the skin. Plate the dish and spoon the vinaigrette over the finished dish and you’re done! Pretty as a picture!

Ali Slagle’s Van

And who is the genius behind this Salmon sensation?

Ali Slagle is a recipe developer and a regular contributor to The New York Times. Ali was part of the Food 52 crew’s editorial staff (www.food52.com.)  And before that, she was an editor at Random House’s Ten Speed Press where her books included Genius Recipes which hit the New York Times best-seller list.  Just last year, Ali published her first cookbook. “I Dream of Dinner (So You Don’t Have To) “ (Clarkson Potter 2022).  It’s billed as “150 fast and flexible recipes to use what you have and make what you want”.  Sounds good to me! But the most intriguing thing I learned about Ali at www.alislagle.com was that “she’s currently working from the road in her camper van for six months”.  Even more astonishing “normally you’ll find her in Brooklyn without a dishwasher, food processor, or stand mixer.”  Way to go Ali!  Here’s the recipe and some other salmon dishes to try.


Salmon Nicoise with Orzo

February 23, 2023
: 4
: 15 min
: 20 min
: 35 min
: Very easy but stick close to the stove.

Aside from its undeniable visual appeal, this is a wonderful mix of textures and flavors


  • 1large shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1cup orzo
  • Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) and pepper
  • ½cup pitted kalamata olives (Optional)
  • 1pint cherry or other small tomatoes, halved (8 to 10 ounces)
  • 2tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Handful of basil leaves or a pinch of thyme leaves (optional)
  • 4(4- to 5-ounce) salmon fillets, skin on or off
  • 8ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • Step 1 Transfer 1 tablespoon of the chopped shallot to a medium bowl, then add the remaining shallot to a large (12-inch) skillet. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high. When the oil is sizzling, add the orzo, season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper, and stir constantly until lightly golden, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Step 2 Add the olives plus 2¼ cups water. Bring to a boil, then cover the skillet with a lid, baking sheet, or foil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook according to package directions until the orzo is al dente.
  • Step 3 Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, red wine vinegar, mustard, herbs (if using), and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the reserved shallots in the bowl
  • Step 4 Season to taste with salt and pepper then set aside. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
  • Step 5 When the orzo is al dente, add the green beans and stir to combine. If the orzo looks dry, add ¼ cup water. You want it to be wet but not soupy. Nestle the salmon in a single layer into the orzo, skin-side up if applicable. Cover and cook until the salmon and orzo are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 2 minutes. If your salmon has skin, peel it off and discard it. Top the orzo and salmon with the tomatoes and vinaigrette.

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