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« Fourth of July in a Hurry | Main | Food and Travel—What we can Take Away »

In Search of the Ultimate Salade Niçoise

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I didn’t find the ultimate Salade Niçoise in Nice. Actually, despite ordering it four or five times, I didn’t find it anywhere in the South of France, where we vacationed a few weeks ago.

My fault.

I ordered my favorite salad in casual outdoor cafés, where expediency probably gets in the way of authenticity. I love this salad so much that I didn’t mind that their ingredients didn’t match my expectations.

The fact is, there are many opinions regarding what should be in a Salade Niçoise. A robust main dish salad perfect for summer, I’ve always thought it contained potato salad in a vinaigrette, green beans, anchovies, olives, canned tuna, tomatoes and hard-cooked eggs—Julia Child style.

The ones I had in France had a variety of unexpected ingredients, mesclun (salad mix), radishes, red pepper, yellow pepper, raw onion rings, celery, scallions, cucumbers…. But no potato salad and no green beans.

What did all the salads have in common? Canned tuna, anchovies, eggs, tomatoes, olives and a vinaigrette dressing. So, I guess, if you use those main ingredients—anything goes for a Salade Niçoise.

I like the potato salad version because that soft, creamy texture of the potatoes adds to the deliciousness of the salad and gives it some satisfying heft for a main dish.

But the good news is, you can skip that time-consuming step. Skip the green beans, too, to save more time.

The recipe below is a long and fully loaded version of this delicious salad. It makes 2 hearty servings. If this seems like too much effort, just toss some greens with canned tuna and the other must-have ingredients, garnish with egg wedges and call it a day.

Salade Niçoise
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 russet or waxy potatoes (about 5 ounces each)
1 tablespoon white wine
2 teaspoons chopped herbs, such as basil or flat-leaf parsley
3½ ounces green beans, ends trimmed
4 cups prewashed baby greens
¼ small red pepper, sliced thinly
½ small cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 can (5 ounces) albacore tuna, packed in olive oil
4 anchovies (or more, if you like anchovies)
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
10 olives (I used Picholine)
3 hard-cooked eggs, quartered
Thinly sliced onion rings, for garnish

  1. Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine vinegar, mustard and salt; beat with a small whisk to combine. Dribble in oil a little at a time, whisking vigorously until the oil is completely incorporated into the dressing. Taste and add more salt if, needed. You should have a little over ½ cup of dressing.
  2. Make the potato salad: Peel and slice potatoes ¼-inch thick. Add enough water to cover and boil potatoes until just tender. Drain, transfer to a bowl, and dribble the wine over potatoes, tossing so the potatoes absorb the liquid. While potatoes are still slightly warm, add 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and toss until vinaigrette is absorbed. Taste and season with salt and more vinaigrette, if needed. When cool, add herbs and toss again. Set aside.
  3. Make the green beans: Cover green beans with cold water; bring to a boil and boil just until beans are tender but still crisp. Drain, transfer to a bowl, add 2 teaspoons of the vinaigrette and toss. Taste and season with salt and more vinaigrette, if needed. Set aside.
  4. To make the salad base: In a medium bowl, add baby greens, red pepper and cucumber. Toss with ¼ cup of the vinaigrette. Taste and season with salt and more vinaigrette, if needed.
  5. To assemble: Use half the ingredients on each of two dinner plates, dividing equally. First, portion out the salad base, spreading evenly out on the plates. Spoon potato salad in the center. Spoon green beans over the potato salad. Top with tuna, broken in large chunks with a fork. Add anchovies over tuna. Scatter tomatoes and olives around the edge of the plate. Position egg quarters, equally spaced, around the edge of the plate. Garnish with a few onion rings.

Makes 2 servings.


  • Be sure to use good-quality canned tuna.
  • If you don’t like a strong olive oil taste, use half olive oil and half vegetable oil when making the vinaigrette.
  • Black Niçoise olives are standard, but I’ve had various other kinds of olives in Salad Niçoise in France.
  • You will have some dressing left. Just refrigerate and save for another day.

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