Nicoise Salad, California Style

Classic Nicoise salad hails from the southeast coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea. Its name means, prepared “in the style of Nice” but I’m giving it a California makeover, featuring fresh-caught local kelp bass instead of the traditional tuna, and topped with goat cheese and dried figs and savory vinaigrette dressing.

I encourage you to mix it up a bit and put your own twist on this classic as I did. Be creative and enjoy this delicious summer meal that’s sure to become a favorite. 
Remember, “Always ‘stay legal’ and never take more than you’ll eat.”
Serves 4
Ingredients:
2 large kelp bass fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon whole unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium head butter lettuce
1 8-ounce bag mixed field greens
3 hardboiled eggs, quartered
10 to 12 pear tomatoes halves
1 small bunch French beans snipped, blanched and chilled
1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained
6-8 fingerling potatoes, blanched and chilled
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup Nicoise olives or other good imported olive
6 to 8 dried figs, halved
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
Crumbled goat cheese and capers for garnish
Sea salt and white pepper
Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 shallot minced
4 leaves fresh basil
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 anchovy fillets
2 cloves fresh garlic
The Salad:
Start by boiling the potatoes until tender; cool in an ice bath and set aside. Blanch beans in boiling water for about a minute or so and cool in an ice bath; set aside with potatoes.
While the potatoes and beans are cooling, place a medium saute pan over medium heat. Season the fish fillets with sea salt and white pepper and then lightly dust with flour, shaking off any excess. Carefully add two tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter to the pan and heat. When the oil/butter mixture is hot, gently place the fish into the pan and sear until golden brown on each side, about 3 to 4 minutes each. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool.
Cut the lettuce into bite-size pieces and arrange in a large salad bowl season lightly with sea salt and white pepper. Place the remainder of the ingredients in neat sections atop the greens, arrange large chunks of fish on top and garnish with goat cheese and capers. Dress with vinaigrette and enjoy. 
The Dressing:
Using a mortar and pestle crush the garlic and anchovy into a paste; transfer to a small bowl and whisk in mustard, shallot basil and thyme. Blend well. Slowly drizzle olive oil into the mixture while whisking continuously, season with sea salt and white pepper.
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