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My Tuna Niçoise Salad

June 8, 2010

The portion you see here is only half of what I’ve just devoured.  I should be embarrassed to admit this but oddly enough, I’m not.  I should also be embarrassed when a server at a restaurant sets the heftier plate of food in front of my husband and the daintier one in front of me when it should be the other way around.  But I’m not.  When it comes to food, all shyness goes out the window.  Fortunately, this is a salad and a healthy one at that, so I won’t feel bad that I’ve just shared with you how I’ve earned the nickname Petunia Pig (of Looney Tunes fame and I mean no offense to the porcine cutie).

This salad–despite my minor substitutions below–stays true to the original version.  Packed with tuna, green beans, eggs, capers, anchovies, onions, tomatoes and olives, it has so much of the foods I enjoy that I would like to believe it was invented for me.  However, I might annoy the good citizens of Nice, France for toying with this idea.  No need to mess with this or a good recipe, I say.

Frankly, the hardest part when digging into this salad is deciding what flavor elements should go on my fork and into my mouth.  I like contrasting flavors so one bite might consist of some egg, olive, onion (with lettuce)–creamy, salty, sharp.  Another favorite combination would be a bite of tomato and anchovy–sweet/tart against salty/savory (I’m weird, I know, but this is how I enjoy my food).  The green beans in their blanched plainness have a crisp, slightly sweet, palate-cleansing effect.  Lastly, the hearty potato goes solo, simply coated by the dijon vinaigrette that brings all these flavors together.

What’s nice about this is that I usually have most of the ingredients available.  If one or two items should not be around, the balance still makes a good salad.  Usually, it’s the potato that is absent from my pantry.  We’re rice and pasta lovers in my home so I rarely have spuds in stock.  My husband just came back from a camping trip with “the boys” and he returned home with a load of food, including a huge bag of potatoes.  These were actually last night’s roasted leftovers, making tonight’s dinner that much easier (and quicker) to prepare.

Feel free to add or remove ingredients.  I understand some versions of Salade Niçoise omit the lettuce completely while others contain artichokes.  As I always say, make this dish your own.

Tuna Niçoise Salad

For the Salad (You decide what amounts to use)

  • Canned Tuna (I like to use tuna in olive oil)
  • Green beans or the French variety, Haricots Verts (I think tradition dictates eating them raw but I like to blanch mine for 1 – 2 minutes)
  • Olives (I didn’t have Niçoise olives so I used Kalamata)
  • Potatoes, boiled or roasted
  • Mixed greens
  • Capers
  • Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • Tomatoes
  • Egg, hard-boiled and sliced in quarters
  • Anchovy fillets

For the Vinaigrette (I didn’t measure amounts so I’ll approximate here)

  • 1 – 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 – 2 cloves pressed or grated fresh garlic
  • Juice of half a lemon (I also added a little red wine vinegar for additional tartness because my Meyer lemons are so sweet)
  • Olive Oil, about half a cup
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

To prepare the vinaigrette, mix all the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl.  Taste for enough salt or tartness and adjust accordingly.  Slowly add enough olive oil into the mix, whisking until emulsified.

You can arrange all the salad components on a platter and drizzle with vinaigrette.  I like to toss everything in a large bowl to get an even coating of the vinaigrette and serve immediately.  Enjoy.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2010 10:10 PM

    I love tuna nicoise, and I’m with you no shyness when it comes to eating good food…


  2. June 8, 2010 11:33 PM

    Cute nickname! 🙂 Beautiful, healthy salad! I’d love to eat this salad, but I think I like your double chocolate cappuccino cookies better… LOL. I have a weakness for all things sweet – cookies, cakes, pie, ice cream, you name it! Congrats on the Top 9!

  3. June 8, 2010 11:44 PM

    Beautiful, delicious and a great reminder of how varied and filling a ‘mere’ salad can be!

  4. June 9, 2010 12:46 AM

    This is one of our ‘go to’ summer dishes. After spending many weekends in Nice I’ve come to the realization that not even there is no ‘one’ Niçoise salad. The one constant is that olives are always Niçoise 🙂 I also prefer the salad with lettuce 🙂 I’m hungry now 🙂

  5. June 9, 2010 2:31 AM

    what a beautiful Nicoise salad…takes me back to my trip to the south of France…sigh
    thanks so much for sharing!

  6. June 9, 2010 6:16 AM

    I do love this salad – almost no-cook for the summer (I blanche the string beans also). It has everything: a myriad of taste and color.

  7. June 9, 2010 6:22 AM

    I love Nicoise salad. I’ll have to make it soon….

  8. June 9, 2010 7:51 AM

    I love Tuna Nicoise salad, and like you, I always have difficulty in determining which different items I want on my fork. Your salad looks fresh and beautiful, and I think you should be proud you polished both portions off!

  9. June 9, 2010 8:29 AM

    It’s a beautiful Niçoise salad! The pictures are gorgeous! I’m getting hungry now 🙂

  10. June 9, 2010 11:13 AM

    Its a beautiful salad. And I feel the same way about portions at restaurants. Whenever I go out with people, I am never the person looking at my plate announcing there is too much. There is no such thing.

  11. June 9, 2010 1:33 PM

    That salad is drop-dead gorgeous! And you are definitely not the only one who likes to strategically load your fork with various flavor combos!

  12. June 9, 2010 2:18 PM

    That’s a cute nickname you’ve earned. I eat more than my husband too! 🙂
    This is such a delicious healthy looking salad and fulls of flavors!

  13. June 9, 2010 2:26 PM

    Amazing salad:) Love the ingredients and I am crazy about tuna…

  14. June 9, 2010 3:53 PM

    Oh thank you! I have a weak spot for Salade Nicoise. The first time I read your blog’s name that’s the first dish that came to mind. Must have been the anchovy! Saving this for a summer evening. Thank you!

  15. June 9, 2010 6:57 PM

    A friend at work tried to convince me I should eat tuna straight from the can (something about how it’s not healthy when drenched in mayo?!). I’d rather have your take on tuna, any day 🙂

  16. June 9, 2010 7:01 PM

    Beautiful salad, one of my favorites too!

  17. June 9, 2010 8:43 PM

    Your post is terrific! Thank you. I agree with you about Meyer lemons. Meyer Lemons are like love. Sometimes hard to find, but well worth the wait.

  18. June 9, 2010 11:40 PM

    Haha, love the nickname, there is no shame in eating a lot of food, especially when it is healthy like this salad! Love Nicoise, it has so many of my favorite ingredients all rolled into one. Your hard-boiled eggs look especially inviting… 🙂

  19. June 11, 2010 2:31 PM

    I’m loving this salad…so fresh and healthy

  20. June 18, 2010 10:04 PM

    I love your salad; very appetizing, now I want some!
    I just got through reading a book on Niçoise cuisine and the mayor of this city who wrote the book says to never ever add potatoes or anchovies and tuna and call it salade niçoise; however he is now long departed.

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