This salad recipe was demonstrated to us on the first day of Intermediate Cuisine at the Paris Le Cordon Bleu school in 2012. Recently, I’ve been thumbing through my notebook of LCB recipes and I thought this one would be a good ‘starter’ dish for having company over to dinner.
This dish is rich in colour and texture, and the addition of watercress, with its slightly ‘peppery’ taste, makes a good addition to the salad (how many times do we roll are eyes upward saying to ourselves, “Not another boring salad!”)
And the watercress also appears in the vinaigrette dressing itself – you pop a hand full of watercress into a blender along with the oil and wine vinegar, and you’ve got yourself a nice salad dressing that can also be used to decorate the plate with ‘dots’ later on.
When do you eat your salad – before, during or after the main meal?
Before revealing the recipe, I’ve been musing about different cultures and at what point in the meal they decide to eat their salads. Americans eat their salad ‘first thing off the bat’, before the main course. Once, I remember having some Australian friends over for dinner and I served the salad on a separate plate before the main course. One guest waited to eat his salad until the main course was served and he then scraped the salad onto his main dinner plate. He said Aussies normally don’t eat the salad on a separate plate.
The French, on the other hand, tend to eat the salad after the main meal, supposedly as a palate cleanser. Any you, my friends, when do you like to eat you salad?
Salmon and Watercress Salad – Cressonnière de Saumon en Salade
Adapted from the Le Cordon Bleu recipe
- 30 ml red wine vinegar
- 100 ml olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ bunch watercess
- Salt, pepper
- 400 g fresh salmon
- white wine and lemon
- 1 hard boiled egg chopped finely
- 1 spring onion- diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 – 2 tbsp vinaigrette dressing (see above)
- 4 tomatoes, peeled and cut into petals
- 1 small lettuce
- ½ bunch watercress
- Rocket (arugula)
- 150 g smoked salmon, sliced finely
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
- Place all ingredients for the vinaigrette into a blender and blend until mixture is smooth.
- Wrap the pieces of fresh salmon in foil. Drizzle with a little white wine and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake the salmon for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until the flesh is no longer pink inside. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Break the salmon up into fine pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the diced spring onion, finely chopped boiled egg, salt and pepper and 1 -2 tbsp. vinaigrette to the mixture.
- Prepare the tomato petals: bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Remove the top core of each tomato and cut an ‘X’ on the bottom of each one. Place each one into the boiling water for about 1 minute to loosen the skin. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool down.
- Peel the tomatoes, first cut into quarters then cut these in half, so you have 8 petals for each tomato. Remove all seeds. Marinate the petals in a little vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper.
- Place the lettuce, rocket and water cress into a large bowl and coat with the vinaigrette dressing.
- To assemble the salad, first place some rocket pieces on a plate, pointing outwards (like sunrays), then add a small clump of salad mixture in the middle.
- Next, place a ring of overlapping tomato petals around the salad clump.
- Now fill each tomato ring with the salmon mixture and place thin ‘ropes’ of smoked salmon around the fresh salmon.
- Add a bit more salad leaves around the outside of the tomato.Garnish with a few watercress pieces on top of the salmon and small edible flowers (optional). Decorate the plate with small dots of the vinaigrette dressing.