This salad glistens with a thin coating of perfectly balanced dressing. The slices of red potato are soaked in a Dijon and lemon dressing mellowed with a splash of cream, then tossed with smoked salmon and baby spinach. Topped with a grind of fresh pepper, the mingled flavors conjure images of France, sidewalk cafes and cozy bistros.
It’s not likely that there will be leftovers, but if there are, refrigerate them for lunch the next day. The spinach will be slightly wilted, but it’s sturdy enough to still look attractive and taste great. This is one advantage of using sliced spinach instead of whole leaves, which can show bruises after storage. But even if you plan to eat the entire salad in one go, I recommend cutting the spinach into thin strips because it gives the salad an elegant look. Plus it’s easier to spear the perfect balance of potato, spinach and salmon on each forkful.
The original recipe used smoked haddock, a traditional French ingredient, but I substituted smoked salmon because it’s much easier to find where I live in Alaska. Substitution is what drives cooking, so give yourself permission to adapt a recipe to your circumstances. I know some people with fructose malabsorption can’t eat fish because they also have other food intolerances. If this is the case, substitute a smoked meat or bacon without nitrites or nitrates. If that doesn’t work for you, add another favorite ingredient and make this salad entirely yours: the dressing will complement many other foods.
According to “Food Intolerance Management Plan”, by Sue Shepherd, most people with lactose intolerance can handle about 4 grams of lactose per serving of food without experiencing problems (page 29). Cream has less than a gram of lactose per tablespoon, so this recipe contains less than 1/2 a gram of lactose per serving. The milk is used only for poaching the salmon and is not included when calculating the total amount of lactose per serving. If you’re nervous about using milk, make sure you buy lactose-free. As always, only eat what your body can tolerate, and only you know what that is.
Smoked Salmon and Spinach Salad
Serves 4, adapted from “Bistro Cooking”
1/3 cup (80 ml) peanut, grapeseed, or organic canola oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) cream, regular or lactose-free
1 teaspoon (10 ml) Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
250 grams (8 ounces) red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed (about 8 to 10 potatoes)
2 cups (480 ml) whole milk, regular or lactose-free
500 grams (1 pound) smoked salmon
284 grams (10 ounces) organic baby spinach, washed, dried and stemmed
In a small jar with a lid, add the oil, lemon juice, cream and Dijon. Tighten the lid securely and shake until the contents blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the potatoes. Cook them until they are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes: test with a knife inserted into the thickest part. Don’t let the potatoes get mushy or they will fall apart in the salad. Drain the potatoes but don’t peel them. Thinly slice them as soon as you can handle them. Put the slices and a couple of tablespoons of the dressing into a large bowl. Toss to coat the potatoes evenly with the dressing and set aside. The potatoes will absorb the dressing as they cool.
Pour the milk into a skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the salmon skin side up, cover the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat. The salmon can sit in the hot milk to keep warm while you prepare the spinach.
Stack the spinach leaves in small piles and use a long, sharp knife to cut the spinach into thin strips about a 1/4 inch wide. While it takes longer to do, it gives the salad a professional look. Put the spinach into the bowl with the potatoes. Move the salmon to a plate and take off the skin. Flake the salmon with a fork and add it to the spinach and potatoes, along with the rest of the dressing. Toss to coat the spinach with the dressing, then divide the salad evenly between four large plates and serve with a grind of fresh pepper over the top.