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.
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.
- 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
- 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)
- *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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Drizzle everything with the remaining vinaigrette:
Sprinkle with capers if using.
Serve immediately. Should be served slightly warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen.