The Ultimate Salad Niçoise
This salad is a French salad featuring tuna, potatoes and green beans. It hails from Nice (hence the word Niçoise) in France and is traditionally prepared with raw veggies and anchovies. American salad Niçoise is often served on a bed of lettuce with cooked potatoes, hard-boiled eggs and green beans. Although the cooked components did not feature in the original recipe, they do the salad justice and taste great.
Sometimes this recipe is made with fresh tuna but in France and most of Europe it is made with canned tuna. This salad takes a while to put together because it features various ingredients which need to be chopped, trimmed or otherwise prepared, and it is best to have everything ready before you begin to assemble it.
Salad Niçoise is one of the most popular dishes on the menu when people are looking at the salads. Most people have a good idea what salad Niçoise is, but if not then the description of tuna, green beans, potatoes, eggs, vinaigrette and more is usually enough to convince them to order this French delicacy. The flavors are incredibly good and the homemade vinaigrette binds everything together nicely. You can either toss all the ingredients together, or arrange them in sections or rows like you would with a Cobb salad.
- 10 small new red potatoes
- 1 thinly sliced red onion
- 6 peeled, quartered hard-boiled eggs
- 3 chopped ripe tomatoes
- 28 oz canned tuna
- 2 torn heads butter lettuce or Bibb lettuce
- 8 oz halved green beans
- 4 quarts cold water
- ¼ cup niçoise olives
- 2 tablespoons capers (optional)
- 6 anchovies (optional)
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
- 1 minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together, season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.
- Bring the potatoes and water to a boil in a pot.
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt and cook for 7 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Transfer the potatoes to a bowl with a slotted spoon (keep the water in the pan.)
- Toss the warm potatoes with ¼ cup of the prepared vinaigrette and set aside.
- While the potatoes are cooking, toss the lettuce with ¼ cup of the vinaigrette in a bowl until coated.
- Arrange a bed of lettuce on a serving platter.
- Stir some of the vinaigrette into the tuna and mound it in the center of the lettuce.
- Toss the red onion with the tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette, and some salt and pepper in a bowl.
- Arrange this mixture on the lettuce.
- Arrange the reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of the lettuce.
- Return the water to boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt and the green beans.
- Cook for 4 minutes or until tender but still crisp.
- Drain the beans and let them cool.
- Toss the beans with 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette, and add some salt and pepper to taste.
- Arrange this mixture in a mound at the edge of the bed of lettuce.
- Arrange the hard-boiled eggs, olives and anchovies (if using) in mounds on the lettuce bed.
- Drizzle the eggs with the rest of the dressing and sprinkle the entire salad with capers (if using).
This vibrant and colorful salad takes pride of place on many restaurant menus because the textures and flavors are so lovely together. Although this salad takes a bit longer to prepare and put together than some other salads, that is not a reason to reject making it. In fact, homemade salad niçoise is always good and this is well worth making. It is hard to say why this salad is so popular but it could have something to do with the magnificent flavors, as well as the fact this is nutritious and light yet totally satisfying and delicious. Make your own salad Niçoise and you will not regret it.
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