Nicoise Salad

DinnerProvencalGluten-FreeTuna

Salad Nicoise, a French composed salad with tuna, green beans, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, onion, capers, and potatoes.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Salad Niçoise (pronounced nee-suahz) 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.

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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

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano or tarragon
  • 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 quartered lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 pounds small young red potatoes or fingerling potatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 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 Make vinaigrette: In a jar, place the oil, lemon juice or vinegar, shallots, herbs, and mustard. Cover with a lid and shake until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2 Marinate onion slices in some of the vinaigrette: Place onion slices in a small bowl and sprinkle with 3 Tbsp of the vinaigrette. (The onions soaking in the vinaigrette will help take some of the bite out of them.)

3 Cook the potatoes, cut, and dress with vinaigrette: Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water.  Add 1 Tbsp of salt. Heat on high to bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or so, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain.

While the potatoes are still warm, cut them into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the potatoes.

Place them in a bowl and dress them with about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette.

4 Boil the green beans in salted water: While the potatoes are cooking, fill a medium sized pot halfway with water, and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil on high heat. Add the green beans to the boiling water.

Cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 3-5 minutes (more or less, depending on the toughness of the beans).

Drain and either rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, or shock for half a minute in ice water.

5 Arrange on a bed of lettuce: Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter. Cut tuna into 1/2-inch thick slices. Mound tuna in center of lettuce. Sprinkle the tomatoes and onions around the tuna.

Arrange the  potatoes and green beans in mounds at the edge of the lettuce.

Arrange hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies (if using) in mounds on the lettuce bed.

6 Drizzle everything with the remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle with capers if using.

Serve immediately. Should be served slightly warm or at room temperature.

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Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen.

Salad Nicoise

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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53 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Maureen

    I gathered all the ingredients – some from the farmers’ market – and herbs growing on my porch, plus high-end canned tuna, so I could follow the recipe, since it looked great. It is! The only thing I added was a glass of wine. This is a salad I would order at restaurants for lunch, if I could find a good one. This recipe is better than many I ate out. So glad I can make this at home. Looking forward to the leftovers! I liked the tips, like adding dressing to the red onions.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  2. Sheri

    Great recipe! I just modified a few things to use what I had on hand–used champagne vinegar as I think that red wine vinegar would be too harsh, and I didn’t have any lemon, and was out of shallots so used scallions, and fresh herbs from the Covid Victory garden ;-) Didn’t have potatoes, but didn’t really miss them. I used flaked canned albacore tuna packed in water from the can. My friend who generally hates Nicoise salads practically licked the plate–it was simple, beautiful, and delicious!! I prepped everything ahead of time, packed the ingredients in Tupperware at room temperature, so just had to assemble at lunch time. Perfect summer lunch!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  3. Sylvester Handojo - Indonesia

    Great recipe! I am from Indonesia and nowadays it is easy to get all the ingredients in local supermarket. I am using fresh tuna. Sprinkle a bit of coarse-ground black pepper and kosher salt during the marinade and i grilled it just to get a crust while the inside is still pinkish. It tastes wonderful. I invited my niece and my sis for dinner and they loved it, too.
    I still have lefrover so I ate them the next day right from the fridge. It still tastes good but now I understand why u said it should be served warm or at room temperature….

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Melissa

    This is such a fantastic salad for summer. It’s easy to prep the cooked ingredients in the morning or the night before to avoid using the stove at peak heat times. I then refrigerate and bring to room-ish temperature before serving in the evening. High quality canned tuna is just as good as fresh, and I have cheated and used tuna sashimi takeout from my favorite sushi place. (Salmon and arctic char are also delicious alternatives.) I’ve used asparagus in place of the beans and literally just any fresh herbs I have on hand in the dressing. Never fails. A glass of rose or champagne and you have a meal worthy of any restaurant.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  5. Ithaca gal

    I didn’t have tomatoes, greens , or capers. Did have fresh from the garden herbs. This salad is soooo tasty.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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