Salad Niçoise (pronounced nee-suaz) is essentially a French composed salad, much like our American Cobb salad, but with tuna, green beans, and potatoes, instead of chicken, bacon, and avocado. Salad Niçoise hails from Nice, on the Mediterranean Sea, though like so many foods we enjoy here of French origin, has changed a bit to adapt to our tastes. According to the Wikipedia the Niçoise salads are always made with raw vegetables and served with anchovies. Nicoise salads that are served in America are typically served on a bed of lettuce and include cooked green beans and potatoes. According to our Paris insider, the Niçoise salads there are all made with canned tuna. Depending on the establishment here, I’ve had them either with canned or with freshly grilled tuna. Like its American Cobb salad cousin, the Salad Nicoise takes some time to prepare, given all of the ingredients. This is one dish where setting up your mise en place (all ingredients chopped and ready to go) will help the salad come together smoothly.
Nicoise Salad Recipe
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 grilled or otherwise cooked tuna steaks* (8 oz each) or 2-3 cans of tuna
- 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and either halved or quartered
- 10 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
- 1 small red onion, sliced very thin
- 8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
- 1/4 cup niçoise olives
- 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and/or several anchovies (optional)
*Marinate tuna steaks in a little olive oil for an hour. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat, or place on a hot grill. Cook the steaks 2 to 3 minutes on each side until cooked through.
1 In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
2 Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with 4 quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain. Toss warm potatoes with 1/4 cup vinaigrette; set aside.
3 While the potatoes are cooking, in a separate pot, add a quart of water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil. Add the green beans to the pot. Blanch until tender but still a little firm, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the beans from the pot and place in ice water to stop the cooking. After about 30 seconds, drain the beans. Toss the beans in 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and add salt and pepper to taste.
4 While potatoes and green beans are cooking, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter (I used two serving platters, shown in the photos). Cut tuna into 1/2-inch thick slices, coat with vinaigrette. Mound tuna in center of lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture on the lettuce bed. Arrange the potatoes and green beans in mounds at edge of lettuce bed.
5 Arrange hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies (if using) in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers (if using), and serve immediately.
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