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.

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

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  • 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

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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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40 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Anna Bella

    Loved the vinaigrette! Pulled the whole salad together. Will definitely be making this again!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Caroline

    Yum! The best Nicoise recipe I’ve found. Great dressing. I used a high quality canned tuna, worked fine. I look forward to trying your other recipes. Thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Hamsa Swaminathan

    AMAZING RECIPE! I made it for dinner, the only thing I added is some maple syrup to the dressing to balance out the flavor, I like my salad dressing on the sweet-tart side. Wow, I was blown away.. Thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Kathleen

    Excellent receipe. The only variation I made was using Italian Tuna in a jar. I also cooked the beans with the baby potato and then shocked the beans. That a beautiful salad and so delicious. Lovely to be able to prepare in advance and plate it while enjoying a rose!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Parshadi

    Can you recommend a vegetarian substitute for Tuna. This salad sounds really good but would love to add some protein to it.
    Thanks.

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