If anyone can make an amazing salad out of canned tuna, it’s the French. Nicoise Salad is probably the best known version, made with potato, beans, tomato, lettuce and olives, and finished with a lemon dressing.
Hefty and interesting enough for lunch, but not so heavy it loses its summery personality. Though mind you, I happily serve this year-round!
After a (very!) extended water break, the inaugural Holiday Salad Marathon has resumed! Today – how the French make canned tuna fabulous:
Nicoise Salad (Salade Nicoise)
Nicoise Salad – or in French, Salade Nicoise – is a classic salad originating from the city of Nice in Provence, France. As with most well-loved traditional recipes, there are fist-shaking arguments over what goes into a proper Nicoise salad.
Question any French chef, housewife or man in the street and you’ll get a different answer every time.
But there are some generally agreed inclusions that make sense for a dish of Mediterranean provenance, such as olives, beans, tomatoes, boiled eggs and some kind of salted preserved fish.
This recipe is how I like my Nicoise salad. I think it should be satisfying enough for a lunch, but not too heavy as to lose its summer appeal or ability to play an accompanying role as part of a larger meal.
What goes in Nicoise Salad
Here’s what goes in our Nicoise salad:
Canned tuna – Yep, good ol’ canned tuna! Tuna in oil trumps tuna in spring water, and not all canned tuna is created equal. You’ll impress me if you use homemade! Fancy option: Tataki-style seared tuna then sliced so it looks like this Tuna Tataki.
Baby potatoes – Small is more commonly seen, but you could cut regular potatoes into pieces;
Boiled eggs – Because they’re quartered here for better distribution, cook to medium or hard-boiled, rather than soft with a runny yolk. If you really want that runny yolk – and I certainly wouldn’t discourage that – just halve them instead and place strategically so the yolk doesn’t run everywhere;
Black olives – Get the best olives you can find. Unpitted Kalamata, Ligurian or Nicoise olives in brine or oil are best;
Tomato, beans & cos/romaine lettuce – All standard Nicoise Salad inclusions; and
Lemon Dressing – Extra virgin olive oil, lemon, garlic and Dijon Mustard (for thickening, so it coats the potatoes better).
As mentioned in the introduction, there are no hard and fast rules about what goes in Nicoise salad. So I’ve also included notes on variations and other ingredients that are commonly seen in Nicoise salads, so you can design your perfect version.
It’s your salad, don’t let anyone tell you what you should or should not include in it – not even the French!! 😂 – Nagi x
PS. No video for these extra salad recipes. But if you want one, just put a request in below. I’ll make this for lunch and film it for you!
What is the Holiday Salad Marathon?
This was my inaugural Christmas recipe countdown where I had planned to share 30 salad recipes in a row until Christmas Eve – something completely different to people’s usual baking countdowns!
Life, however, got in the way and I never crossed the finish line before Christmas. After an extended water break, I’ve finally resumed!!!
These salads are in addition to my regular 3 new recipes a week. Because aren’t you bored of the usual tomato-cucumber-lettuce garden salad routine??
Click here to see all the Holiday Salad Marathon recipes to date!
Nicoise Salad (French salad with tuna)
- 8 baby/chat potatoes (Note 1)
- 120g/ 4 oz green beans , trimmed
- 2 tomatoes , each cut into 8 – 10 wedges
- 1/2 baby cos lettuce (romaine) , cut or torn into large bite size pieces
- 3 hard-boiled eggs , peeled and quartered
- ¾ cup/ 100g unpitted black olives (Note 2)
- 250 – 300g/ 8 – 10oz canned chunk tuna in oil , drained and broken into large chunks (Note 3)
Lemon Nicoise Dressing:
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove , minced/grated
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Pinch black pepper
- Dressing: Shake ingredients in a jar.
- Cook ptoatoes: Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and leave to fully cool. Slice into halves.
- Blanch beans: Boil green beans until tender or done to your liking. Drain and refresh under cold running water to quickly cool. Drain, pat well to dry.
Assemble the salad:
- Arrange the cos leaves on a large, wide plate.
- Scatter and layer the remaining ingredients artfully around the plate, finishing with the eggs, olives and chunks of tuna. Drizzle with dressing over and serve!
– Instead of tuna, anchovies are common and arguably more traditional. Use around a dozen draped over the salad. Modern versions often turn the salad into a seafood meal by serving a whole seared, rare tuna steak on top of the salad.
– Other vegetables sometimes seen in a Nicoise salad: Cucumber, capsicum, artichokes, broad bean (fava beans), red onion, eschalots, radishes. Soft herbs are also sometimes included such as parsley or basil.
More French vegetable dishes
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