A Salade Nicoise is a classic French composed salad.  The salad has its origins in Nice, a city in the Provencal Region of southeastern France. Many of its ingredients such as tuna, tomatoes, green beans, olives, anchovies and capers are indigenous to the region. Because Salade Nicoise is composed and not chopped or tossed, its ingredients are arranged aesthetically and make for a lovely presentation.  Salad Nicoise is the perfect dish to serve during the dog days of summer.  Prep the ingredients early in the morning, then refrigerate during the day.  Serve cold or at room temperature, for a light refreshing dinner—the perfect antidote to a sultry summer’s eve.  Bon Appetit!

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½  cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chives, minced

Salad

  • 3  6 ounce salmon filets, precooked (poached or grilled*)
  • or 16 to 18 ounces of good quality canned Italian tuna packed in oil, drained
  • 1 ½ pounds small red potatoes
  • 1 pound green beans or haricots verts**, ends trimmed
  • 6 eggs, hard boiled*** , cut into halves or quarters
  • 1 ½ pounds small tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 ounces pitted nicoise or kalamata olives
  • anchovies and/or capers, optional

Vinaigrette: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper.  Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk well until ingredients are emulsified.  Add the chives and mix well.

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan.  Fill with water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender—5 to 10 minutes.  Drain and cool to room temperature.  Cut into halves.

Fill a medium saucepan with water, bring to a boil, add a teaspoon of salt, then add the green beans.  Reduce the heat and simmer the green beans for about 3 to 5 minutes until tender/crisp.  Drain the beans and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color.

To Assemble the Salad: Place salmon or tuna, potatoes, green beans, eggs, tomatoes and olives on a large round or oval platter.  Make sure to place ingredients decoratively in large blocks of alternating colors and textures.  If desired, add the anchovies and capers to the platter. Drizzle the platter with some of the vinaigrette. Place the reserved vinaigrette in a sauceboat to pass around.

Notes

* At this time of year, I usually buy my salmon precooked—poached or grilled—to avoid spending too much time in a hot kitchen.

** Haricots verts are French green beans.  They are thinner, tastier, and have a nicer texture than regular green beans.  If available, I would choose haricots verts over regular green beans.  If not, regular green beans are fine.

*** To hard boil eggs: Place eggs in a large saucepan.  Fill with water to cover the eggs by an inch.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and set a timer for 9 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and pour cool water into saucepan.  Allow eggs to cool a bit, then peel.