Back for another edition of FRENCH FRIDAY with this Simple Niçoise Salad. Just in time to turn your long weekend lunch into an elegant soiree. Without all the hassle, of course.
To transport you back a few months to when my mom and I were traveling in France, we had a few musts on our list. Picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower, visit as many French vineyards as possible, and eat a traditional Niçoise Salad in Nice.
Done. Done. And done.
After a little research and talking to various waiters (we had several Niçoise salads, mind you), there’s a bit of a discussion around what a traditional “Nicoise salad” is, but there are some commonalities.
So, What is Nicoise Salad?
First things first: the name. Niçoise Salad (or ok, we’d normally just type Nicoise, I KNOW). But let’s go french for a minute because Salade Niçoise sounds so much fancier. And French. 😉
Traditionally known as the poor man’s salad, it’s a simple combination of vegetables that are around, and that generally don’t need to be cooked. Nowadays, many versions of the salad include blanched green beans and boiled potatoes.
For a protein, it’s either anchovies or canned tuna. If you’re a purist, it’s never both together, but I definitely had a fancy version with both. Then hard-boiled eggs (pretty sure a must IMO), and any other raw veggies you’re craving.
It traditionally is served with some olive oil for the dressing (yes, American me didn’t realize this the first time and thought the dressing was already on…eating a dressing-less salad the first time around. Oops and darn it, because the olive oil was bomb).
Well, what about this version?
Keeping it simple, and fairly traditional here. Traditional mostly for the sake of, well, simplicity, and approachable-ness.
Homemade dressing? Yes, absolutely. We might not all have super good olive oil (one that needs no frills) laying around ready to dress a salad. Although, I would highly recommend you invest in one if you don’t.
Not to mention homemade dressings are outright delicious. Especially when they’re easy to make and require very few ingredients but deliver all the flavor. YES AND YES.
In addition to the dressing, this simple version uses blanched green beans (because they’re amazing and NEED to be on this salad). No potatoes here (simplicity!), but there is some thinly sliced shallot, fresh juicy tomatoes, and hard-boiled eggs laying on top of that bed of lettuce.
Well, ok, a good ol’ slightly jammy egg is pretty darn good on top, too.
Then there’s the tuna. For simplicities sake, I suggest using your favorite canned tuna or I’ve been loving (and used here) jarred tuna fillets. Feeling really adventurous? Toss in some anchovy fillets.
And the plating? You can always go ahead and mix up the salad before serving, or chop up the green beans into more bite-sized friendly pieces. I, however, do love eating it the French way. Fork, knife, and mindful bites. Oh, and baguette slices to help the salad make it to your fork. Yes, that too.
Simple Niçoise Salad
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 TBSP red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- ~1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 TBSP olive oil
- Salt to taste
- SALAD INGREDIENTS
- ~30 fresh green beans
- 2 eggs
- 1 to mato
- 1 small shallot thinly sliced
- 4 cups mixed greens
- ~2/3 cup canned or jarred tuna
- Flaky sea salt to top
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Set aside.
- Prepare an ice bath by placing ice and water in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, cover the eggs with water. Bring to a boil and cook the eggs for 6-7 minutes. Transfer immediately to the ice bath.
- Fill a large saucepan with water and salt. Bring to a boil and add the green beans; cook for 2-3 minutes and transfer immediately to an ice bath for approximately 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes in quarters and place in a colander (either on top of a bowl or sink to drain). Sprinkle with salt and let the tomatoes drain out some of their juices.
- Assemble the salad by tossing the greens with the dressing (using as much or as little dressing as you desire); plate in two servings and top with the green beans, tomato slices, hard boiled eggs (cut in quarters), thinly sliced shallot, and tuna (all divided between the two salads :)). A sprinkle of flaky sea salt on top is a must - it brings out all the flavors!