- 1 to 1 ¼ pounds thick salmon fillets, skin intact, cut into four equal pieces (4 to 5 oz. per serving)
- California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil for brushing on grill and salmon, plus ½ cup (See chef’s notes)
- Soaked wood chips for smoking
- 2 cups diced potatoes, peeled if desired (½-inch dice)
- 2 cups shelled English peas (about 1 ¾ pounds unshelled)
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar or champagne vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp. coarsely chopped fresh tarragon (if using champagne vinegar)
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
- 4 large handfuls salad greens
Prepare the grill and let it burn down to medium coals. Leave the coals piled in the center of the grate. Sprinkle the salmon all over with salt and let rest for about 25 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Brush with California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil.
Add a handful of soaked chips to the coals, oil the grill rack with California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil, if necessary, and place the salmon, skin side down, on the grill toward the outside of the coals. Cover the grill and cook, without turning, until the salmon is opaque through, about 20 minutes (for 1 ½ inch thick fillets).
Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon and spread on a baking sheet to cool. Return the water to a boil, add the peas, and cook just until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well and scatter on the baking sheet with the potatoes to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, the tarragon, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the ½ cup of California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil while whisking to form an emulsion.
Put the peas and potatoes in a large salad bowl and add about ¼ cup of the vinaigrette. Toss and taste for seasoning. Add more of the vinaigrette, if needed. Toss well with 1 tablespoon of the chives and divide among four plates. Pull the skin off each piece of salmon (reserve, if desired), then place on top of the salad. Dress the greens with another tablespoon of the vinaigrette and arrange around the salmon.
Stand the salmon skin against the side of the salmon as a garnish, if desired. Sprinkle the salads with the remaining 1 tablespoon chives.
Chef's Note: Find out your preferred balance for vinaigrettes. I like to use a ratio of about 10 parts oil to one part vinegar for a dinner when the wine is a star, and four parts oil to one part vinegar for “all-purpose” vinaigrettes, such as this one. If you like a more pronounced acidity, do not be afraid to decrease the ratio to equal amounts oil and vinegar. You could also serve this dish as a mixed salad by shredding the salmon into the pea salad and then tossing the greens.
Recipe courtesy of The Tra Vigne Cookbook: Seasons in the California Wine Country by Michael Chiarello with Penelope Wisner (Chronicle Books, 2008)