Salad Nicoise


It’s cold outside. I should be craving something warm and thick, like chowder or stew or curry. But I’m not. I’m hungry for summer. Ripe tomatoes, baby new potatoes and green beans. Tuna, olive oil, anchovies, hard cooked eggs and olives. I’m craving Salad Nicoise.

There are many opinions about what makes a proper Salad Nicoise (pronounced Nee-Swaz). The trend in recent years is to make Salad Nicoise with Ahi tuna, seared rare. But for me, the key ingredient has always been high-quality canned or jarred tuna, preferably packed in olive oil. We are lucky here in Seattle to have access to a few local brands. My two favorites are Day Island Fish Company and Tuna Guys. Good tuna makes all the difference in a Salad Nicoise, so it’s worth a few extra bucks.

Since this is a composed salad, the individual elements can be prepared in advance, making a platter of Salad Nicoise perfect for a picnic, a day on my your boat, or a light summer dinner on the patio.

Or, if you find yourself craving Salad Nicoise in February like me – invite some friends over (preferably a few who speak French). Ask them to bring a couple of bottles of good white wine. Build a fire to warm up the house and to give the illusion of a summer sunset. Drink a glass of wine. Prepare the Salad Nicoise and heat up a loaf of French bread. Pour another glass of wine. Take a bite of salad and close your eyes.  Say Bon Appétit. It’s almost like summer.

Salad Nicoise
Recipe Type: Salad
Author: A Passionate Plate
Serves: 6 – 8 as entree
Salad Nicoise is perfect for a large group. This recipe serves 6 to 8. The key ingredient in this French classic is high quality, canned tuna packed in olive oil.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 small lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound small new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 pound haricots verts or French green beans, stems trimmed
  • 18 oz. (3 cans) high quality tuna packed in water or olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint teardrop or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup nicoise olives
  • 16 anchovy fillets
  • 8 cups mixed leaf lettuce and spinach
  1. Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the garlic, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and oil oil. Season to your taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Hard boil the eggs. Peel, slice and set aside.
  3. Place the potatoes and 1 Tbsp. salt in a pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and let them cool.
  4. Cut the stems off the green beans. Bring a pot of water and 1 Tbsp. of salt to a boil. Add the beans and cook until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain them in a colander and then finish cooling in an ice water bath to cool so they remain bright green.
  5. Drain the tuna. If it is packed in water, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Break into large chunks.
  6. Assemble the salad on a large platter. Place mixed greens in the center and mound the eggs, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, olives and tuna around the lettuce. Drizzle everything with the vinaigrette, decorate the top with anchovy slices, and generously finish with fresh black pepper. Dish up from the platter and serve with additional vinaigrette on the side.



  1. Jeanne says:

    I was one of the lucky ones to be part of this fabulous dinner. It did remind me of spring, and such a lovely presentation with the colorful greens and variety of shapes and textures. I tried not to take too much tuna with my portion, but it was sooo yummy. I will try this one for my man. How long did it take to put together?

    • MaryMiller says:

      Jeanne – I am so glad you liked the salad! I thought I made too much for the six of us, but we did a pretty good job getting through it all! This takes virtually no time at all to make. You can cook the eggs, potatoes and beans ahead of time and then literally just open the tuna and assemble everything. You’ve got to get tuna from Tuna Guys! It’s at Thriftway. Or, Day Island Fish Co. tuna from QFC.

  2. Beth says:

    Mary, that is so weird — I had the exact same craving for Salad Nicoise about two days ago! (It must be a sign that spring is on the way.) Unfortunately, my fridge is filled with daikon and napa cabbage and other Japanese winter vegetables, so the salad is going to have to wait a few days… Your vinaigrette sounds great — I can’t wait to try it!

    • MaryMiller says:

      Beth – The Nicoise was sooo good! You need to try canned tuna from Tuna Guys. I wonder if you have anything comparable in Japan. Tonight Joy and I made Taiwanese Style Juicy Dumplings. You’ve probably got all of the ingredients for those in your fridge! Recipe coming soon!

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