What’s cookin’?

Here’s a cool salad recipe from NICO’s executive chef.


When creating a summer salad for modern tastes and appeal, Andrew Watterson, executive chef at NICO Kitchen + Bar at NJPAC, looks to “ancient” grains for inspiration.


The Bloomfield resident, who has a background in French cooking in large part from his tenure at Alizé at the Top of the Palms in Las Vegas, uses red quinoa as the centerpiece of his “Ancient Grain Salad.” He savors “nice, bright, fresh flavors in summer,” and that means plump, ripe Jersey tomatoes, a favorite ingredient.


For this salad, he deftly tosses the red quinoa with shaved Brussels sprouts, baby kale, feta cheese, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes, and bathes everything lightly with herb vinaigrette. Quinoa, whose roots are in South America, is grown for its edible seeds and compares to wheat and rice in nutritional content when cooked; it’s high in protein, fiber, iron and more. (Bonus: You’ll reap additional fiber from the sprouts, vitamin A from the kale, calcium from the cheese, and potassium and vitamin C from the tomatoes.)


Summer’s bounty, on full display at local farmers’ markets, provides even more creativity in salad-making, Watterson says. Try incorporating green papaya, strawberries, Italian burrata cheese or watermelon to add interest to your greens.



1 carrot, peeled
½ onion, peeled
1 celery stalk
1 bay leaf
1 cup red quinoa
1 ½ cups vegetable stock, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper


Rinse quinoa well with cold water in a mesh colander. Add all ingredients to a sauce pot and simmer until quinoa is tender. Cool on a sheet tray, remove vegetables.



¼ cup champagne vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
½ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives)
1 minced shallot
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard


Add all ingredients except oil to a blender and pulse fine. With blender running on low, slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


July 31, 2018