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.