Smoked Salmon Summer Salad with a Cilantro Caper Vinaigrette!
Sunday dinner went just as most Sunday dinners have gone for me lately.
Dinner/cooking plans in place.
Energy level low.
Backup plan appears out of nowhere to save the day.
I pretend I knew what I was doing the whole time.
In other words, the big grilled salad operation that I had planned out the day before was looming as the little daylight was fading away on another fantastic weekend. Having spent the the first half of the day making two other upcoming food posts, I was a bit reluctant to start the whole prepping, styling, photographing, cooking, styling again, photographing again, then eating bit. Telling myself that the grilled romaine salad post could wait until tomorrow, I decide to go with a simpler backup idea that came to mind after Katie tells me she is craving lox and bagels again. The light bulb was fully lit.
Q: How can I make a hearty, healthy, flavor packed meal without cooking?
A: Chopped Salad!
Growing up, my mom often made an awesome cucumber salad, usually with little more than 4 ingredients. Cucumber, red onion, oil and red wine vinegar. A side salad that I am sure many of you have had in your life. Its bright, fresh, tangy and a little sweet. I loved it! It’s the perfect compliment to any entree, be it protein or starch. With a few tweaks I thought, this could be the meal in and of itself.
In an effort to work our way through the giant pile of veggies that we picked up this week from Bountiful Baskets, I decided to add my first addition to this salad, round red tomatoes, fresh off the vine.
This is where that light bulb moment occurs. Lox and Bagels is perhaps one of my favorite dishes ever. It was first introduced to me on Mothers day a loooooooong time ago. My dad bought everything to make my mom breakfast in bed, and he told me that one of her favorite breakfast meals was of course, lox and bagels. Being a bagel fiend myself, I was intrigued. So you’re telling me that I can top my bagel and cream cheese with veggies and smoked salmon? SOLD. (Weird kid)
Back to the salad, where my backup plan was taking shape. With both red onion and tomato on board, we were dangerously close to filling those lox and bagels flavor gaps. Katie had picked up a gorgeous piece of smoked salmon from a local market a while back, and for some sad reason we had neglected to use it yet. In related news we’re awful people.
With smoked salmon on board, this party wouldn’t be complete then without some love from one of my favorite little flavor soldiers…Capers. They really need to be in more dishes damnit.
So now we have our basic ingredients and it appears that my creative juices were simply dormant this entire time. Before I know it, in five minutes I have a salad mixed and marinating in the fridge with almost no work involved. Perfectly content I’m thinking “Hey it might not be post worthy, but at least it was easy!”
An hour later I go retrieve the soaking salad and mix in the salmon I just cubed up. Back in the fridge for another half hour or so, without giving it much thought.
The sun comes back out a bit, and our back porch is being adorned with some nice soft light. Oh well, would have been a great evening to post if only I had the energy earlier.
Hunger pangs have arrived and I go to dish up the salad for dinner while Drive is on pause in the living room.
Damn….this salad is prettier than I thought.
DAMN… THIS SALAD TASTES BETTER THAN I THOUGHT!
I rush to grab my camera and throw my bowl down on the wood table next to the dining room window and snap a few pictures. I return to the couch to continue eating and watch Ryan Gosling kill members of the mafia when I look over at Katie just staring at her bowl. First instinct: “F***, she hates it”
Katie has been known to on the rare occasion shed a tear or two of joy for a dish. She describes the requirements as she must be both blown away by the flavor, and totally surprised by it. Having made plans for a grilled salad (which I will be making tonight for a future post btw), then ditching it last minute for a simple salad that we didn’t plan for or discuss, helped ensure that she would be caught off guard by its awesomeness. I’m not going to continue to toot my own horn here, but this bad boy just moved into the leader-board for my “Bring this dish to a party” brackets! (Note: this list doesn’t exist on paper sadly). That good!
Of course, this is just a matter of taste, if you dislike smoked salmon then this may only bring you tears of sadness. But if you enjoy both healthy fresh salads, and lox and bagels, then this fusion is sure to win you over.
As always, tweak to your own personal preferences. If I had to change one thing on this for next time, I would make the red onion pieces smaller and less abundant. I enjoy its flavor, but in moderation.
- 1 large cucumber diced into cubes
- 2 red round tomatoes diced into cubes
- 1/4 cup of chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup cubed smoked salmon
- 2 tbsp Non-pareil capers
- 1 tbsp caper brine
- 1 tbsp cilantro
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- To begin, in a bowl whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, capers and caper brine, cilantro and some fresh cracked pepper. Set aside
- Chop up your tomatoes, red onion and cucumbers into bite size pieces (roughly 1/2 inch cubes). Mix together the chopped vegetables and caper vinaigrette until evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for an hour up to overnight. You may be asking yourself, “Where’s the beef…er Salmon?”. It’s important to not that I am keeping the salmon out to of the long marinade process on purpose. Those delicious healthy fats from the salmon mix well in the short term with this salad, so it’s a great idea to mix the cubed bites into the bowl about 30 mins-1 hour before serving. However, those fats, if left in the fridge overnight mixed into the salad, will congeal at the top leaving you with an unattractive salad that you must also find a way to re-melt and combine the fat without cooking your cold fresh salad. Good luck with that. If you are just into the short marinade of 30 minutes-1 hour, mixing the salmon in wont be much of an issue for you!
- Stir one last time before serving to ensure that everything is well coated. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!