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Salad Nicoise Recipe

Ahhh. Summer in the south of France. What comes to mind? If you said Salade Niçoise you are not alone! The reason this composed salad (salad composée) is tastiest in summer is that two of the main ingredients, tomatoes and green beans, are both in season.

I first discovered this salad when I was working in the French part of Switzerland. I went to lunch with colleagues nearly every day and my teammates ate a lot of salad, and in particular in the summer, lots of Nicoise salad. Whether it was a cheap little cafe or an expensive restaurant, there was a Salade Niçoise on the menu.

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Salad Nicoise is a popular French salad that is named after the Nicoise olive/Nicoise olives, a type of black olive that is found in the south of France along the French Riviera around the city of Nice.

The salad can be made with any variety of fresh vegetables, but typically includes tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, and olives. It can also usually has includes tuna or anchovies (or fresh anchovy fillets). Some people add capers as well.

Salad Nicoise

As I discovered recently while watching a segment on French news and then discussing with Mr. Misadventures, the true ingredients in a classic Nicoise salad are a source of debate. My hubby says traditional niçoise salad has to have green beans and tuna. Some folks they interviewed in Nice said there are no green beans. Whew, it got heated!

Fear not. You can tamper the temperature of this disagreement by enjoying it with a chilled glass of white wine!

When we switched to a low-carb lifestyle, we started making a low-carb version of this French classic, by using turnip instead of new potatoes. To reduce the carbs even more, we’ve done it with cauliflower too.

Once you have your ingredients, this salad is easy to make!

Salad Nicoise Ingredients

If you are making this salad with turnips, then you need to roast them. You do that in the oven by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper and spreading the diced turnips on it. Drizzle the olive oil, sea salt, and pepper over the turnips and toss to coat.

Roasting the turnips for Salad Nicoise

Roast the turnips for 25-35 minutes, or until they are tender on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside.

While the turnips are roasting, set a steamer basket insert into a medium saucepan with water just below the steamer. Bring the water to a boil and add the green beans (haricots verts).

Green beans for Salad Nicoise

Cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes to gently cook the green beans. Rinse with cold water (or give them an ice bath to keep their vibrant green color) and set aside the turnips and green beans to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.

To make the vinaigrette add all the ingredients except for the olive oil into a small bowl.  Whisk to combine, and then continue whisking while you drizzle the olive oil in a small stream with the other ingredients.  Whisk until fully combined, then store in a jar until you’re ready to use it.

making the dressing for Salad Nicoise

To build your Niçoise salad, make a bed of greens with the chopped lettuce into a large bowl along with 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette.  Toss to coat every piece of lettuce fully.

Salad Nicoise

To the lettuce, add the roasted turnips, steamed green beans, sliced radishes, sliced cucumbers, halved cherry tomatoes, tuna, quartered hard-boiled eggs, and black olives. 

You can use fresh tuna. You will need to buy tuna steaks, grill them, let them cool, and then cut the tuna in chunks, but I just use very high-quality canned tuna.

Salad Nicoise

Drizzle another 2-3 tbsp of dressing over all the additions and toss to combine.  Add more dressing if desired. 

Alternate Ingredients or Variations.

  • Some people add capers and green spring onions.
  • Other vegetables I have seen are bell peppers,
  • If you use fresh tuna steaks, splash them with a hit of fresh lemon juice.
  • I have seen people do a Dijon mustard vinaigrette and switch out the nicoise olives for kalamata olives as they are easier to find in the grocery store.
  • Season with good quality flaky sea salt (or kosher salt if that is your preference) and black pepper.

Serve, and enjoy! Bon appétit!

See the step by steps instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.

Photography and recipe development by Heather Englund of Fit Mama Real Food

How about you? Have you had salad nicoise? What ingredients do you use? Do tell!

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Salad Nicoise

Salad Nicoise Recipe

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Salad Nicoise is a popular French salad that consists of greens, potatoes, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and tuna. It is usually dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is a healthy and filling meal that can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner.

Ingredients

  • Salad Ingredients:
  • 3 turnips, diced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 pound green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 head of red leaf lettuce, chopped
  • 6 radishes, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 English cucumber, sliced in half length-wise, then into small moon-shaped pieces
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 - 5 ounce cans of albacore tuna in oil, drained and broken into smaller pieces
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, quarter
  • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted
  • Red Wine Vinaigrette Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the diced turnips on it. 
  3. Drizzle the olive oil, sea salt, and pepper over the turnips and toss to coat. 
  4. Roast for 25-35 minutes, or until the turnips are tender on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside.  Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  5. While the turnips are roasting, set a steamer basket insert into a medium saucepan with water just below the steamer. 
  6. Bring the water to a boil and add the green beans. 
  7. Cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes to gently cook the green beans.
  8. Set aside to cool.
  9. To make the vinaigrette add all the ingredients except for the olive oil into a small bowl.  Whisk to combine, and then continue whisking while you drizzle the olive oil in a small stream with the other ingredients. 
  10. Whisk until fully combined, then store in a jar until you’re ready to use it.
  11. To build your Niçoise salad, add the chopped lettuce into a large serving bowl along with 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette. 
  12. Toss to coat every piece of lettuce fully.
  13. To the lettuce, add the roasted turnips, steamed green beans, sliced radishes, sliced cucumbers, halved tomatoes, tuna, quartered hard-boiled eggs, and black olives. 
  14. Drizzle another 2-3 tbsp of dressing over all the additions and toss to combine. 
  15. Add more dressing if desired.  Serve, and enjoy!

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13 Comments

  1. I don’t care for a few of the ingredients but I’ll share it with my aunt who loves it all. I do enjoy eating salads during the summer months. I just get a salad kit and eat that instead of getting all the ingredients.

  2. This salad is perfect! It looks absolutely delicious! I really love the combination of fresh veggies here!

  3. This looks so delicious and refreshing. I’ve only had turnips in stews, but I’d like to try this recipe.

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