Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with Beetroot, Grapefruit and Horseradish

I've long been a fan of the way the French put together a salade composée. The British style of having a few ingredients laid out on a flat plate always looks sad, and usually tastes that way as well. While the base for today's offeriing will always be leaves (well dressed of course),  you can pile on layers of texture and flavour. In winter, warm salads can inspirational. as well as filling. In Lyon I've been served what was essentially a full English breakfast on a bed of leaves. The only limits are your own imagination.

For extra texture I often serve little crispy fried potatoes. This week, however, I had the first Jersey Royals of the summer, and served them separately on the side. Similarly with the asparagus. It looks nice with a few stalks criss crossed over the top, but if you prefer, put it on the side too, with plenty of melted butter.

I don't eat raw pepper, as it speaks back to me for hours afterwards; however, if you pop strips in with your potato water for a few minutes, then allow them to cool, that takes the edge off. Grapefruit goes very well with hot smoked salmon, the acid counteracting the natural oiliness of the fish. Just don't serve any wine with it. Use any leaves you like. It's great to have a mixture of colour and texture. Last week I had some lamb's lettuce and splashed out on one of those rather expensive bags of mixed leaves. Rocket and spinach work well too.

Ingredients (serves 2)

Mixed salad leaves; vinaigrette*; large chunk of hot smoked salmon, skin removed and cut into chunks; a few tomotoes, sliced or quartered;  small red or yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into strips; a couple (depending on size) cooked (not pickled) beetroot, cut into chunks; 1 grapefruit segmented**; 6 stalks asparagus, cooked; 3 hard bolied eggs cut into quarters; generous quantity of horseradish sauce (I prefer creamed as opposed to hot).


If you're using beetroot, make this up  at the last moment, as the colour leaches into everyrhing. Dress the leaves with the vinaigrette and use them as the base for a wide, fairly shallow bowl. Chuck in the beetroot and tomatoes. From there it's just an assembly job, attempting to be artistic. with all the other ingredients. Spread generously with large dottles of horseradish (or mayonnaise if you prefer), and serve at once. Have some potatoes on the side, new ones or crispy fried cubes.


1 tsp Dijon mustard; 3 tbsp good olive oil; 1 tbsp vinegar (wine, cider or balsamic); pinch of salt; pinch of sugar (omit if using balsamic vinegar); drizzle of cold water.

Mix all the ingredients together and stir well. Give an extra stir just before using.

**Grapefruit Segments

No, you can't use tinned grapefruit and, yes, you do need to get rid of the membrane. If you haven't done this before, find a useful video here.


  1. Allan Stewart on 10th May 2024 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for a salad “recipe”, Tom. So many people haven’t a clue about salads (and I do mean “restaurants” as well as at home) you tend to get either a mountain of herbage or a “take on” (I’m coming to detest that phrase) something that was on the telly except they didn’t quite note down the ingredients and technique. Rant over. The best salads, in my opinion, either refresh the palette either as a stand alone or as an intermezzo or are a direct complement to the main as a course on their own.
    On your recipe I notice grapefruit – a word (actually three words) of caution: adverse drug interactions. Almost every drug prescribed to me (and that’s a lot nowadays!) says very clearly “avoid grapefruit” – I asked about it and yes it’s to be avoided it can last in the system for up to three days after eating. So check your meds if you embark on this recipe. I wonder if another citrus fruit might be substituted – probably not but maybe.

    • Tom Johnston on 10th May 2024 at 6:31 pm

      Wise words as ever. My readers usually know their own meds, but good advice if you’re feeding geriatric relatives. Thanks, Allan.

Leave a Comment