Niçoise Salad - Downshiftology

Niçoise Salad – Downshiftology

11 mins read

Niçoise salad is a classic French salad from the city of Nice that’s perfect for your next summer dinner party. It starts with a large platter of leafy greens and gets topped with boiled eggs, flaked tuna, baby potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, olives, and a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette.

Photo: Gayle McLeod

What is Niçoise Salad?

After ordering plenty of Niçoise salads while traveling through Nice (yes, it’s named after the city), I like to think of this as a fresher, French Riviera version of America’s beloved cobb salad. But instead of bacon, avocado, and cheese, you’ll swap in ingredients that highlight the Mediterranean coast. Think light seafood, briny olives, crisp cucumbers, and green beans — a palette that touches everything I love about Mediterranean food.

This Niçoise salad recipe highlights farmer’s market fresh ingredients, but it’s quite flexible and there’s no “one” way to make a traditional Niçoise salad. Almost every Niçoise salad I had in France was a bit different! Some used anchovies and artichoke hearts, some had no potatoes at all, and some even used tiny quail eggs. At the end of the day, just prioritize a fresh mix of Mediterranean ingredients.

Ingredients for Nicoise salad on a table

Tuna Niçoise Salad Ingredients

Since this is a type of salad that lets each ingredient shine — you want to use the best of the best! Here are a few notes for each item in this salad Niçoise.

  • Leafy Base: Grab a bag or small box of mixed salad greens for the base of the salad. I’m using a spring mix, but you can also use baby spinach, arugula, or your favorite leafy greens mix.
  • Vegetables: I’m using an English cucumber, grape tomatoes, a mix of olives (green Castelvetrano olives and Kalamata olives), red onion, baby potatoes, and green beans (specifically French green beans, also known as haricot verts, is preferred). But feel free to get creative! If you watch the video below, you’ll see that I also enjoyed versions in France that included bell pepper, artichoke hearts, capers, and Niçoise olives.
  • Protein: While you can use seared or grilled albacore, a high-quality canned tuna (or canned anchovies) is all you need for a classic Niçoise salad. I’ve linked my favorite brand in the recipe card below. Then, a batch of hard-boiled eggs (or soft-boiled eggs) is the perfect accompaniment for an extra hearty protein boost.
  • Niçoise Salad Dressing: My simple lemon vinaigrette is a combination of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, salt, and black pepper. It’s the right amount of fresh zing for this salad!

Find the printable recipe with measurements in the recipe card below.

How to Make a Niçoise Salad

Make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients until they’re emulsified, and set aside.

Mixing Nicoise salad dressing in a bowl

Boil, chill, and slice the eggs. You can make the eggs as hard or soft-boiled as you’d like. Take a look at my post on how to boil eggs for the correct cook time. I prefer a soft-boiled egg or jammy yolk in this recipe, which cooks for about 6½ to 7 minutes. Once the eggs are done cooking, use a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove them to an ice water bath. Once cool, peel and slice each egg in half.

Boiled eggs on a wooden board for Nicoise salad

Cook the potatoes. While the eggs are boiling, simmer the potatoes in a separate pot for about 15 minutes, until fork-tender. Use a skimmer to remove them from the pot (making sure to leave the hot water in the pot), and let the potatoes cool on a cutting board. Once cool, slice each in half.

Boiled potatoes on a board for Nicoise salad

Blanch the beans. Add the green beans to the same pot of boiling water and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Place them in an ice water bath, then drain them in a colander.

Green beans in a strainer for Nicoise salad

Assemble the Niçoise salad. Grab a platter about 16 x 11 inches and get ready to assemble! Spread the salad greens as the base layer, then arrange the potatoes, green beans, tuna, tomatoes, olives, red onion, and soft-boiled eggs on top. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle the lemon vinaigrette over everything.

A close up shot of Nicoise salad

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Niçoise salad dressing made of?

Typically, you want to use a simple vinaigrette that’s tangy and herby. I used a lemon vinaigrette for this recipe. But you can also use a Dijon vinaigrette or champagne vinaigrette.

How to make salmon Niçoise salad?

If you’re not a fan of tuna, you can swap it with canned salmon or flaked baked salmon. You can also reference my salmon salad recipe for flaking salmon properly.

Make Niçoise Salad In Advance

This salad is super easy to make. But you can make it even easier by prepping some of the ingredients a day in advance. Here’s what you can do ahead of time:

  • Cook the eggs, potatoes, and green beans. Then store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge.
  • Slice the grape tomatoes and red onions. These sliced ingredients will hold up just fine if stored in airtight containers in the fridge.

And if there are any leftovers, this Niçoise salad will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

More Mediterranean Salad Recipes

And if you’re going for a French dinner theme, serve up my chocolate pots de crème for dessert. Your guests will love them!

This Niçoise salad will always have a place on a summer dinner table. If you make it, let me know how you liked it in the comment box below!

Nicoise salad on a big platter

Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salad is a classic French salad piled with leafy greens, vegetables, flaked tuna, boiled eggs, and a tangy lemon vinaigrette — it’s the perfect summer salad! Watch the video below to see how I make it (and catch a glimpse of some authentic Salade Niçoise I enjoyed in France).

  • To make the vinaigrette. Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

  • Boil the eggs. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Then, turn off the heat (so there’s no bubbles) and gently add the eggs. Turn the heat back up to boil and cook the eggs for 6½ to 7 minutes for a slightly jammy yolk. If you prefer hard-boiled eggs, cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

  • Chill the eggs. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove the eggs to an ice water bath for a few minutes. Then crack, peel, and halve each one.

  • Cook the potatoes. While the eggs are boiling, bring a separate medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes (leaving the hot water in the pot), transfer them to a cutting board, and let them cool. Then slice in half.

  • Blanch the beans. Add the green beans to the pot and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until they turn bright green. Then chill in an ice water bath and drain the beans in a colander.

  • Assemble the Nicoise salad. Spread the salad greens out onto a large platter. Arrange the potatoes, green beans, tuna, tomatoes, olives, red onion, and soft-boiled eggs on top. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle the lemon vinaigrette over the salad. I use about half the vinaigrette and save the remainder in the fridge for future use.

Calories: 247kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 109mg, Sodium: 413mg, Potassium: 467mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 829IU, Vitamin C: 25mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 2mg

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