A classic French salad perfect for warm weather dining
A Nicoise Salad, or Salade Niçoise (pronounced nee-swaaz) in French, is a classic salad originating from the southeastern coast of Nice, France. At the base level, the essential components are very simple: traditionally tuna or anchovies, fresh tomatoes, Niçoise olives, hard-boiled eggs, and olive oil. However, many adaptations also include an array of fresh produce that makes this dish perfect for dinners in the spring and summer months.
My version of the Tuna Nicoise Salad includes a bed of blanched fresh green beans, boiled baby potatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes, English cucumber, briny olives, marinated artichoke hearts, perfectly jammy 6-minute eggs, and classic tuna topped with an umami-rich Anchovy Dijon Vinaigrette. This salad is best enjoyed when the weather demands leisurely dinners outdoors and maybe a few bottles of French wine to pair with it.
How to construct a Nicoise Salad
A Nicoise salad can be served on a platter as a composed salad or tossed together and served from a bowl. I generally prefer to serve this salad composed on a platter so that everyone can build and plate their own salad as desired — and also because this is such a showstopper of a salad when composed on a platter!
The most essential components of a traditional Nicoise Salad are tuna and/or anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, Niçoise olives, and olive oil. However, many common adaptations include additional vegetables such as potatoes and green beans, fresh herbs, and vinaigrettes. For this Tuna Nicoise Salad, I include the following ingredients:
- Canned tuna (I generally prefer wild yellowfin tuna)
- Jammy 6-minute eggs
- Olives: I usually break with tradition and use a combination of (Italian) green Castelvetrano olives and (Greek) Kalamata olives
- Boiled baby potatoes or fingerling potatoes
- Blanched green beans
- Marinated artichoke hearts
- English cucumber
- Anchovy Dijon herb vinaigrette
- Fresh herbs such as tarragon, chives, and dill
- Maldon salt flakes
Other complementary additions that you might consider are:
- Salad greens
- Blanched or roasted asparagus
- Spring peas
- Marinated or grilled mushrooms
- Marinated peppers
- Cannellini beans or Cassoulet/Tarbais beans
- Alternative tinned or smoked fish such as trout or salmon
- Fresh seared or grilled fish such as tuna or cod
How to make perfectly jammy, 6-minute eggs
I prefer to use jammy, 6-minute eggs in this Tuna Nicoise Salad rather than the traditional hard-boiled eggs. For a 6-minute egg, or soft-boiled egg, the egg whites are cooked through and the yolk is only just starting to cook around the edges, leaving the golden center saucy, shiny, and perfectly jammy.
In order to accomplish this, bring your pot of water to boil over medium-high heat first before ever adding the eggs. Once the water reaches boil, gently lower your eggs into the water and cook for 6 1/2 minutes (set that timer!), adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle boil if necessary. Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the eggs with a slotted spoon (a pasta spoon also works really well for this!) and place them into an ice bath to chill for 2 minutes. Then crack, peel, and enjoy the jammiest eggs!
What type of olives are best to use for a Nicoise Salad?
Technically, like its namesake, Niçoise olives are the most accurate type of olive to use for this French salad. Grown in the southeast of France around the city of Nice, Niçoise olives are a small olive variety with colors ranging from brown to dark purple. Their flavor profile is salty, briny, and sometimes nutty and bitter making them a perfect choice for pairing with seafood dishes — like this Tuna Nicoise Salad!
However, Niçoise olives can sometimes be difficult to consistently find in the US. I’ve found that your best bet for locating them is the olive bar at specialty grocery stores, though you can buy jars of them online too. When I’m unable to locate them at my local grocery olive bar, I generally substitute for other varieties that have a flavor profile that will complement the other ingredients in the dish. Italian green Castelvetrano olives and Greek Kalamata olives are two of my favorite choices. Though they are not French olive varieties, I find that the crisp butteriness of Castelvetrano olives and the sharp brininess of Kalamata olives to play well with the other flavors used in this salad, and they are both readily found where I live at both the olive bar and in jars.
What kind of fish is best to use for a Nicoise Salad?
I always keep canned tuna in my pantry, so that is my go-to for this Nicoise salad. I personally prefer a wild yellowfin tuna as a good alternative to albacore, as it is not currently considered overfished. Other canned fish such as trout or salmon are tasty and easy choices too. If you prefer to upgrade your Tuna Nicoise Salad a bit, you can also sear or grill fresh tuna and serve them sliced or diced on top of this salad.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- A cutting board
- A chef’s knife
- A food processor (ideal, but can alternatively use a mixing bowl and a metal whisk)
- A medium pot (to boil eggs)
- A large pot (to boil potatoes + blanch green beans)
- A slotted spoon or pasta spoon
- Kitchen tongs
- A colander
- A kitchen scale – OR – measuring cups (for less precise measurements)
- Measuring spoons
- A citrus juicer
- A large serving platter
Are you looking to upgrade to your cooking tools or replenish your pantry? Check out my kitchen tools shop page and pantry staples shop page to find my must-have kitchen tools, pantry items, and other Whip & Wander favorites.
Looking for more dinner inspiration?
Love this Tuna Nicoise Salad recipe? Here are some additional salad recipes that you might enjoy!
- Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Blue Cheese, and Candied Walnuts
- Smoked Salmon and Citrus Salad with Cucumber and Avocado
- Strawberry Peach Summer Salad with Basil Walnut Pesto
- Caesar Salad with Spicy Roasted Chickpeas, Jammy Eggs, and Avocado
- Crunchy Greek Salad with Avocado and Feta
- Creamy Cucumber Radish Salad
- Wedge Salad with Horseradish Bleu Cheese Dressing
A note for special diets
This Tuna Nicoise Salad is friendly for gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and Whole30 diets. This salad can be made friendly for Low-FODMAP diets by utilizing garlic-infused olive oil rather than fresh garlic and paying attention to the amount of fodmap-rich foods consumed per serving. For example, the amount of green beans and artichokes used in this recipe are considered low-FODMAP according to Monash based on the suggested individual serving size, however, they can easily become too high in FODMAPS when consumed in larger portions.Print
This Tuna Nicoise Salad is my take on the classic French Salade Nicoise. Packed with fresh veggies, tuna, and an Anchovy Dijon Vinaigrette.
For the Tuna Nicoise Salad:
- 16 oz baby potatoes or fingerling potatoes
- 12 oz green beans, stems removed
- 6 large eggs
- 16 oz cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced into halves
- 1 large (about 327 g) English cucumber, sliced into discs
- 6 oz pitted Nicoise olives (I often sub for 3 oz pitted Castelvetrano olives + 3 oz pitted Kalamata olives if I can’t find Nicoise)
- 2 (5 oz) cans tuna (I prefer wild ahi yellowfin tuna), drained
- 6 oz marinated artichoke hearts, drained (10 oz before drained)
- 1/4 cup kosher salt, divided (for boiling potatoes and blanching green beans)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Maldon salt flakes, to finish (optional)
- Additional herbs: chives, tarragon, and dill, to top (optional)
For the Anchovy Dijon Vinagrette:
- 4 anchovies (packed in oil)
- 4 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil – OR – 4 tbsp olive oil + 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
For the Tuna Nicoise Salad:
- Prep 2 ice baths with ice and very cold water, one in a large bowl for the green beans and one in a medium bowl for the eggs. Reserve to the side.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 3 quarts of water, 1 tbsp of the divided Kosher salt, and the potatoes and allow to come to boil. Allow to cook until fork-tender, then carefully remove potatoes from the pot using a slotted spoon (a slotted pasta spoon also works well for this) and reserve to the side, leaving the hot water remaining in the pot (you will use it again). Coat the potatoes in a drizzle of olive oil and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the remaining 3 tbsp of Kosher salt to the pot of boiling water and stir until dissolved. Carefully transfer the green beans to the pot of boiling water (I find it safest to do this with tongs) and allow to cook for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from heat and carefully transfer the green beans immediately to the reserved ice bath to cool.
- *I know this sounds like a lot of salt, but green beans blanch best in very salty water as it will help them retain their bright green color and texture while seasoning them properly. A fair amount of the salt will end up going down the drain after blanching.
- While the potatoes cook (or after), bring a medium pot of water to boil. Once the water reaches boil, gently lower your eggs into the water with a slotted spoon and cook for 6 1/2 minutes (set that timer!), adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle boil if necessary. Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place them into your reserved medium ice bath to chill for 2 minutes or more. Crack, peel, and slice each egg in half. Reserve to the side until ready to plate.
- On a large platter, compose your salad as desired. I prefer to start with green beans fanning out at either end as they are hearty and can handle other things layering on top. Then plate the potatoes, cucumber, olives, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. I like to place the tuna close to the center so it’s easy to grab a bit of from any side of the platter. Drizzle everything with the Anchovy Dijon Vinaigrette and finish with a sprinkle of fresh chives, tarragon, and dill and a sprinkle of flaked finishing salt.
For the Anchovy Dijon Vinaigrette:
- I prefer to blitz the vinaigrette ingredients in my food processor for about 60 seconds, scraping the bowl down as needed when paused, until well-blended and slightly creamy.
- If you do not have a food processor you can prepare the vinaigrette in a mixing bowl with a whisk, but you’ll want to make sure that the herbs and anchovies are chopped very finely first before whisking.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 385
- Sugar: 5 g
- Sodium: 1004 mg
- Fat: 22 g
- Saturated Fat: 3 g
- Carbohydrates: 23 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 25 g
- Cholesterol: 208 mg
Keywords: salade nicoise, nicoise salad, salad, olives, anchovies, Dijon, potatoes, 6-minute eggs, vinaigrette, tomatoes, cucumber, artichokes, tuna