Nicoise Salad

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

  • Yield: Serves 6.

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 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

Salad

  • 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)

Method

*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.

 

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen.

Links:
Salad Niçoise American Style - from Tea of Tea & Cookies

Nicoise Salad on Simply Recipes

37 Comments

  1. Christine

    This sounds like the perfect recipe for a can of tuna packed in olive oil that I bought the other day. They sell it at a little Portuguese deli. I can’t wait to go to the farmer’s market for all of the other ingredients.

  2. Katiez

    I love Salade Nicoise… especially if I can eat it on a terrace sipping a chilled rose. Your photos make me want to do that…NOW!

  3. lydia

    I remember watching Julia Child make a salade Nicoise by blanching the beans, cooking the potatoes, and using canned tuna. That’s pretty much the method I use, unless I’m lucky enough to have fresh grilled tuna, which to me always tastes better (if not totally authentic)!

  4. Christelle

    Salade nicoise is like couscous. everyone has his own version of it. In my family, I remember when I was growing up that salade nicoise was layered flat, on a large platter, with thinly sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced salad peppers (skinny green peppers), black nicoise olives (the little ones), and if in spring, young fava beans and purple artichokes quartered – yummy! the celebration of spring!
    I do not remember boiled eggs or tuna. No lettuce, no potatoes, no green beans . the key ingredient : fresh, tasty tomatoes (Not from the store). a chiffonade of basil and a drizzling of good tasting olive oil, salt & pepper. ah, la salada nissarda!

  5. Gemma

    Mmm, Salad Nicoise is one of my favorites. Great photo. It was lovely to meet you at the food blog dinner (and to see you here and there during the actual conference). Take care.

  6. At home with Kim Vallee

    Salade Niçoise is my favorite salads of all times. I ate a Nicoise Salads once a day when I visited Nice and the coast of Provence. Effectively, no two recipes were the same.

    From my research done over French speaking recipes, I observed that hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, a cucumber, small black olives and anchovies appear to be the common elements. For sentimental reasons, I often prepared mines with a handful of green beans, a couple of small potatoes and canned tuna in olive oil on top of the mixed common ingredients. One leaf of Romaine Salad rests on the side as decoration.

  7. Sean

    Definitely in my top-ten favorite foods. No matter how I try to expand my horizons and order something different, every time I go to Luna Park I get their nicoise. I just love it!

  8. marlene

    Hey..Love your site – wonderful recipes and most I can adapt to gluten free! RE the Nicose salad – here in bordering France and Switzerland they often add corn! Cheers, Marlene

  9. Chloé

    Looks good, definitely. However, I would say that one of the main differences between American and French salads is that in France we do really mix all the ingredients together. I’ve always been surprised here to see all the different ingredients of the salad neatly laid one next another. It of course has the great advantage, when eating out, to let you easily skip one ingredient you don’t like, but the point of having all these things together is to have their tastes mix, isn’t it?

  10. Lisa

    Oy, I just stumbled on this post; missed it when it was first put up. Your salad looks just beautiful. I’m glad you didn’t enter it into the Julia Child event (sort of, ha ha), because that’s what I (just yesterday!)decided to make for the event, and I fear mine will not look as good!

    I’m still undecided as to whether to make fresh tuna or to use canned. Since it’s canned in the JC recipe, I’ll probably go that way.

  11. Allison Doyle

    I’ve made this twice and we LOVE IT!!! My husband said he’d be happy to eat this every week and when I served it to my mom, she said it was better than a restaurant.

    The dressing is perfect; it’s delicious on all the ingredients. I substituted dried thyme and oregano for the fresh to save a few bucks on ingredients, and it was still great! All the different flavor and texture components make a dish that is a delight to eat your way through. If you think you don’t like anchovies, please try them with this meal. Just a small bit of anchovy in a bite gives a wonderful briny saltiness like nothing else, and of course, summer tomatoes really make this stand out.

    You know how chefs love to contemplate what they would chose for thier “last meal”? Well, I think this might be mine…

  12. Karen

    I know this is an older recipe (do recipes get old?) but I wanted to add my praise to this gorgeous salad. My boyfriend is French and I make this for him all the time and he loves it. The dressing is so delicious that we usually make extra just so we can put it on the left over beans and potatoes the next day. This is a winner!

  13. Mark Nicholas

    Thanks once more Elise. I knew the basic of a salad nicoise but want to double check and your site popped up. Here in the Cascades of the northwest the hottest streak in decades with another day of near 100 degree weather. This salad will be our salvation and I’ll prepare everything this morning, head to the river, the compose the salad in time for dinner (and grill some bread as a side). The tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and cucumber will come from our garden. I’m also adding some raw baby carrots just picked and a few hot peppers just cut this morning. I can’t wait!

  14. Shelly Cobb

    I made this last night, and my whole family loved it! Your version is terrific. My partner said he could have this every night for dinner and be very happy. Merci beaucoup!

  15. Talley

    We had the perfect CSA box delivery for this recipe this summer. It was fantastic. I had actually never had a nicoise salad before this one. The recipe was fantastic and it looked gorgeous. Thanks Elise.

    Beautiful photos Talley! Love the purple potatoes. ~Elise

  16. athina

    I made this Nicoise salad for my father and his friend…it was a great success. directions were clear and simple, and the result was a delicious, colorful and nutritios summer meal, that was enjoyed by all. Thanks Elise!

  17. bob from bristol

    Very, very good recipe. The only changes that we made were to add a crushed anchovy fillet to the vinaigrette (umami element) and we left out the mustard in the V. But apart from this we adhered to the recipe and method.

  18. dena

    Just discovered this website and tried this salad! It is truly authentic! It was fantastic as were the crab mango salad and the blackberry pie I also made. Wonderful website with delicious recipes. I look forward to making more.

  19. Becky

    I realized as the potatoes were almost done cooking that I had no EVOO left–yikes!–so I improvised on this one. Took some homemade greek vinaigrette leftover from a few days ago out of the fridge, along with leftover lemon chicken breast, chick peas, green onions and kalamata olives. Threw it all in with the potatoes, tomatoes, eggs and lettuce that your recipe calls for and voila! Greek Nicoise salad? It was actually quite delicious. Look forward to trying the actual recipe next time!

  20. jonathan

    This is the most amazing salad!!! I personally don’t like salad, but my roomate really does. I watched him eat the entire plate (which was too small for the gigantic salad)! Ivan (that’s my roomate) had a huge grin on his face for several hours after eating it.

  21. GM

    This is one of our absolute favorites. We make this salad (with variations depending on what’s fresh and available)a couple of times a month. I didn’t even like canned tuna (or so I thought)until we made this salad. It is so so so good. Our base is lettuce, eggs, tuna, tomatoes, cuke, green beans, potatoes, and some yummy vinaigrette. Tonight we had it with avocado (!!) and early season grilled corn (!!!) Spectacular!

  22. Alpna Manchanda

    Its really hot where i live (India) and many of the ingredients you write about are not easily available, so I skipped the anchovies and substituted nicoise olives for bottled green ones and I had to do without the Dijon mustard. It still turned out really good. I guess this is a flexible sort of recipe and I can work in some local ingredients.

  23. Pam Woodall

    The first time I had this salad made for me by a friend in Paris (1983) it comprised only leftover cooked rice, hard boiled aggs, canned tuna, corn, tomatoes and a lovely vinaigrette of olive oil, garlic, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar. I make it different every time as it works beautifully with many different seasonal vegetables, and is best served with a fresh baguette to wipe up every drop of sauce.

  24. dame flo

    hi from Nice !

    My husband (Nice native) always tells me that “a salade niçoise with green beans, potatoes is a nicoise salad from Paris !” where I was born and raised !!!!!!!

    His family receipt is with small onions called “cevettes”, red onion, with tomatoes, salad , tuna or anchovy ,eggs, radish and olive oil and olives from Nice… of course !!!!

    it’s very difficult to find a good one in Nice, downtown around the touristic places the cost is around 13 or 15 euros !!!

    dame Flo sending you sun from Nice !!

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