I recently had the distinct pleasure of spending some time in southern France – my first time – and I can tell you all the filthy rumours are true; the Mediterranean really IS that blue, the quality of light rarified and incredible, the atmosphere intoxicating…and the food? Well, yes, yes…and yes. Fresh, succulent, simply prepared – in a word: delicious!
With the warmth of summer fully upon us, my craving for all kinds of fresh salads has grown exponentially with versions of the classic Nicoise gracing my table most often of late.
Traditionally made with tuna, I decided to try something lighter and fresher tasting and came across some fresh Tilapia fillets at my local seafood purveyor (budget bonus…they usually ring in at about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of fresh tuna). I tossed in some peppery arugula with the mixed greens to give it an extra flavour component and I have to say it’s become one of my favourite combinations thus far!
Salade Nicoise with Tilapia & Arugula
Ingredients for 2 meal-size salads:
- 2 fresh Tilapia fillets, salted and peppered on each side
- Fresh arugula and mixed greens
- Several small Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled, cooled and quartered, dressed in some of the vinaigrette
- Hardboiled eggs, cooled, peeled and quartered, 1 per person
- Tomatoes cut into wedges
- Haricots verts (thin green beans) steamed until just tender and cooled
- Red onion, thinly sliced
- Radishes, thinly sliced
- Cucumber, thinly sliced
- Nicoise olives
- Anchovy slices (splurge for the good stuff)
- Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
For the Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin cold pressed
- 1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
- Parsley and some fresh herbs to your taste (rosemary/tarragon/thyme/a little mint), finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook up your potatoes, eggs, and green beans up to a day ahead so they have some time to cool. Mix together the vinaigrette and toss in the sliced onion to marinate. Prep the rest of your veggies.
Heat a sauté pan on a medium-high flame, drizzle with some olive oil and pop in your fillets. While they sauté toss the greens with the radishes, cucumbers (and onions which are already in there) reserving some of the vinaigrette for finishing.
Nothin' says lovin' like anchovy and boiled potato.
It should be time to take a sip of wine and turn over your fillets. While they finish portion out the salad between two generous bowls. Arrange the quartered and dressed potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, Nicoise olives and hard-boiled eggs around the top of the tossed greens.
When the Tilapia is just barely done, transfer to the tops of the salads, drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and finish by draping 2 generous slices of anchovy over the top. Pour the chilled rosé and enjoy!