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Nicoise Salad is so easy to make and you can switch up the ingredients for what's in season. Tuna Nicoise salad is my absolute favorite. It's amazing that a can of good tuna, ripe tomatoes, tender green beans, perfectly cooked eggs and potatoes, briny olives and a simple mustardy dressing can make one of the most flavorful and satisfying meals there is!
Nicoise Salad or Salade Niçoise (pronounced [niˈswaz]) originated in the French city of Nice and can be served as a composed salad (each ingredient clustered into its own area of the bowl, plate, or platter) or tossed as you would other salads. In the late 19th century, it started in France as just tomatoes, anchovies and olive oil and was described as "simple food for poor people." It has evolved to incorporate all kinds of cooked and raw vegetables and proteins and many famous chefs and authors have strong opinions about what it should and should not include.
I could eat this classic Nicoise Salad once a week. Forever. Sometimes I get fancy with it: swap in leftover Grilled Tuna Steak or Slow Roasted Salmon for canned tuna, add anchovy fillets here, a sprig of tarragon or other fresh herb there. But this is the way we eat it most often: just 30 minutes between putting water on to boil and taking our first bite.
It's a house favorite because all of the elements, though distinct, work in harmony: a simple dressing of fresh lemon juice, white wine vinegar, good olive oil and Dijon mustard brighten; namesake Niçoise olives add spark; creamy new potatoes and tender green beans (French name: haricots vert) offer heft; perfectly boiled eggs and humble but mighty canned tuna make it a meal.
The best salads are a combination of the freshest ingredients in season and need only the simplest preparation to shine. Nicoise Salad is a perfect example (I'm looking at you too Crab Salad). Serve it alone or alongside a cup of French Onion Soup or a Jambon-Beurre sandwich as I often do.
How to Make Nicoise Salad
Step 1: Make Nicoise Salad Dressing: Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, and Dijon mustard together in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 2: Cover new potatoes with cold water in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Boil until tender; transfer to ice bath until cool. Drain, pat dry and cut in to bite size pieces.
Step 3: Add green beans to boiling water and boil until tender crisp. Transfer to ice bath to cool. Drain and pat dry.
Step 4: Line a single platter or individual bowls with butter lettuce leaves (optional). Arrange green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, hard boiled eggs, and tuna on top.
Step 5: Drizzle salad with desired amount of dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Nicoise Salad Recipe Video
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice about 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
- 1 head butter lettuce separated into leaves and washed, optional
- 1 pound small new potatoes or small red potatoes
- 1 pound thin green beans
- 2 large tomatoes cut into wedges, one pint of halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup black Niçoise olives or kalamata olives
- 4 hard-boiled eggs peeled and halved
- 2 cans high-quality tuna drained
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the dressing:
- Whisk lemon juice, vinegar and mustard together in a small bowl; add oil in a steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper.
To make the salad:
- Add potatoes to a medium saucepan; cover with cold water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and keep at a low boil for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of your potatoes) until fork tender (a fork should slide in with little effort). Drain or lift out with slotted spoon and transfer immediately to an ice water bath to cool. When cool (5-10 minutes) remove and cut into bite size pieces.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add green beans; boil 3-4 minutes until tender crisp. When cool (about 5 minutes), drain well in a colander and pat dry if necessary.
Assemble Nicoise Salad:
- Line four individual plates or a large platter with butter lettuce leaves (optional), arrange potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, eggs and tuna on top of each plate, dividing the ingredients evenly. Drizzle each salad with desired amount of dressing. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve.
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
When the weather is warm, Nicoise salad is one of my favorites and yours looks great. My husband loves his with anchovies added but if we don't have any, I'll just add a little anchovy paste to the dressing.
That's a great idea - can't go wrong with a little umami! 🙂
I could absolutely have a Nicoise salad once a week, too. I love your version and your eggs appear to be cooked exactly how I love them. 🙂 I love serving my family main course salads a few times a week. And Nicoise should go in the rotation.
Love to hear that, Valentina! Thank you!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
One of my favorite salads Marissa! So hearty and delicious. Perfect for lunch or for dinner with a glass of wine!
Oh yes! Love how you think, Mary Ann!
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
I'm definitely with you! I could most definitely eat salad nicoise at least once a week! It's so light yet filling and just delicious! Your salad is just perfection, Marissa! I'm craving this for lunch today!!! Pinned! Cheers!
aww, thank you, Cheyanne!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
This is making be seriously hungry right now, Marissa! We are thisclose to lunch and I wanna grab that off my screen...so hearty and flavour packed...just how I like it. Have a wonderful weekend 🙂
Wish I could share, Dawn! You have a great weekend too!
When we were in France a few years back, I think I ordered a Salad Nicoise whenever it was on the menu. I'm going to look at my blog and remake whatever version I shared way back when....#1 so I can eat it #2 so I can take better photos. I may try your dressing, though! And I love an ahi version, too 🙂 As always, thanks for inspiring me.
Oh yes, can't go wrong with ahi! Thanks so much, Liz!
mimi rippee says
One of my favorite salads as well, although I have to import the olives! Oddly enough, the worst Nicoise salad I've ever had was in Nice!
ha! I love it... Thank you, Mimi!
David @ Spiced says
Hmmm....it's been quite some time since I had a good Nicoise Salad. I'll have to fix that! We used to order this one as a starter at a pizza joint in Atlanta (I know, pizza joint. Seems strange...but they made a killer Nicoise salad!). That was years ago, though. I'll have to use your recipe to whip up one of these at home soon. Looks delicious, my friend! I enjoyed reading the backstory behind this salad, too.
Thank you and you're right, David. I wouldn't think of a great Nicoise Salad in a pizza joint, but it's a good reminder to not choose a book by it's cover!