What is Niçoise Salad?
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. Prepping
Niçoise 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 Niçoise 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.
Watch This Classic Nicoise Salad Recipe
Prepping Niçoise Salad in Advance
Assemble the entire salad just before serving, but feel free to prep these ingredients a day ahead of time. Bring refrigerated ingredients to room temperature first.
- Make the vinaigrette (as directed in Step 1) a day ahead and refrigerate.
- Marinate the onions (as directed in Step 2) a day ahead and refrigerate.
- Hard boil the eggs (as directed in Step 2) a day ahead and refrigerate. Peel and slice just before serving.
- Cook the potatoes (as directed in Step 3) a day ahead. Tightly cover and refrigerate.
- Cook the green beans (as directed in Step 4) a day ahead of time. Tightly cover and refrigerate.
- Tear the lettuce and core and cut the tomatoes. Refrigerate.
The Best Tuna for Salad Niçoise
Use quality canned albacore in oil tuna for Salad Niçoise. Get solid tuna; we don't recommend chunk light for this recipe.
Freshly cooked tuna steaks are not traditional in this salad, but if you love a good seared tuna steak, go for it!
Substitutions for Niçoise Olives
Niçoise olives are brined, dark brown or black olives that come from Nice, France, near the Mediterranean Coast. If you can't find them at the store, substitute Kalamata olives, which are easier to find.
5 French Dishes to Pair with Salad Niçoise
- Coq au Vin
- Easy Croque Madame (Ham and Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Fried Egg)
- Mussels in White Wine Sauce
- Caramelized Onion Quiche
- Cherry Clafoutis
If you’re cooking tuna steaks for this salad, marinate them 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.
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen.
1/3 cup lemon juice or red wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano or tarragon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 (5-ounce) cans tuna, drained, or 2 (8-ounce) grilled or otherwise cooked tuna steaks (see recipe note for cooking instructions)
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 or butter lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup Niçoise olives
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and/or several anchovies, optional
Make the 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.
Marinate the onion slices in some of the vinaigrette:
Place onion slices in a small bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons 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 tablespoon 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:
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 to 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 the salad on a bed of lettuce:
Arrange a bed of lettuce on a serving platter. If using tuna steaks, cut them into 1/2-inch thick slices. Mound tuna in the 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.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 35g||45%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||30%|
|Total Carbohydrate 28g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||17%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 26mg||129%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|