I don’t even remember the first time I heard of this fancy salad, to be honest. I always RUINED the name until I realized how incredibly easy it was to pronounce…
Say it with me now…Salad Nee- Swaz.
See, easy peasy!
What is Salad Nicoise?
This delightful salad originated in Nice, France and traditionally includes tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives, tuna (or, sardines) and finished with Olive Oil. This salad is quite the classic, appearing on French menus as early as the latter part of the 19th century.
There are many versions and several ideas on what constitutes a Nicoise Salad but most agree on ONE thing- Salad Nicoise is a “composed salad.”
(To be honest, that is what drew me to this dish in the first place!!)
A composed salad simply means the ingredients are not tossed together but, rather, arranged on a plate or platter.
What are the components of Salad Nicoise?
Over the past century, several versions have emerged. Each including its own variety of combinations- some with artichokes, pickled peppers, hearts of palm and/ or red potatoes.
Most people agree on one thing…this dish MUST contain tomatoes.
I say ‘most,’ because I thought they were unnecessary until I had some baby tomatoes and tossed them into the mix.
I CONFESS…the baby tomatoes -DO pull the entire dish together!!!
Why should Salad Nicoise be at the top of YOUR Summer menu?
Well, because it’s fancy, delicious and easy to make!
This dish that can be put together ahead of time and assembled quickly for a refreshing summer lunch or lazy summer dinner. It’s perfect after a day at the beach and makes the ultimate Girl’s Trip meal!
While individual servings are nice, I LOVE to serve this salad on a charcuterie board and let everyone dig in…Y’all know I love to bring people together around a table. And, this is the PERFECT way to do just that!
Components of my Farm Fresh Salad Nicoise
As you can see, this salad is crazy versatile. You can, literally create hundreds of versions.
I prefer the main components of my dish to be green beans, red potatoes, baby tomatoes, ahi tuna and eggs.
As I mentioned above, I suggest prepping these ingredients ahead of time so I just need to assemble everything when it’s go time. But, preparing ahead -ALSO- allows the ingredients to chill and the flavor of the dressing to meld.
1. Blanch the Green Beans.
For Green Beans, bring salted water to slow boil. I like mine boiled for 3 minutes but you can go up to 5. The KEY to properly cooked green beans is to soak them in an ice bath IMMEDIATELY upon removing from the water. (The beans will continue to cook if you don’t and you want your beans crunchy!)
SIDE NOTE: An assignment I took at Rouxbe Cooking School called for us to boil water, adding 10 green beans. We would remove a bean, one at a time, in single minute intervals. This allowed me (the student) to see their preference when it comes to doneness. It’s a great exercise that I suggest trying with your family!
FUN FACT: It is Julia Child who insisted green beans be added to Salad Nicoise. I, for one, cannot IMAGINE this salad without Green Beans.
2. The Perfect Potato & a Word on Herbs de Provence.
I prefer skin-on red potatoes but Yukon Gold go nicely as well. As you can see from the pictures, I slice them into rounds and boil potatoes until soft- (around 20-25 minutes.) For a faster chill, you can boil potatoes whole and plunge into an ice bath, slicing into rounds when cool to the touch.
Have you heard of Herbs de Provence?
Herbs de Provence is a blend of dried herbs with it’s culinary roots from the Provence region of Southeast France. This savory blend typically contains rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, savory and (sometimes!) lavender. This blend is amazing on chicken, fish and potatoes. Just a touch of this blend in the dressing is perfection!
You can make your own blend or just grab some from the store. For this version, I’ve added it to the vinaigrette but; alternatively, you could sprinkle the mixture over the entire dish.
3. Hard Boil the Eggs.
Sigh, the eggs. Farm fresh eggs are a WHOLE different ball game.
(Remember, Pasture Raised is always best.)
I STILL struggle with the perfect ‘peel’ and I’ve tried everything under the sun. A good rule of thumb is to bring water to a rolling boil, slowly add the eggs, turn off the heat, cover & let sit for 15 minutes.
As with the others, plunge into an ice bath. Chill. Then, peel!
Cut the eggs in 1/2, quarters or rounds for show time.
4. Sear the Ahi Tuna.
Fresh Ahi Tuna is my preference for this dish. I do a simple salt and black pepper rub, coat a pan in sesame oil, crank on high heat then sear.
When chilled, slice against the grain.
5. More components!!
Oh, the sky is the limit here.
Obviously, olives and/or olive Salad is a MUST.
But, don’t stop there…Hearts of palm, caperberries, marinated artichokes, steamed (or pickled) asparagus…let this dish carry you as far as your imagination can take you!
6. The Final Component
The Feta & the Vinaigrette.
So, this vinaigrette is a big deal, y’all. I use it on SO MANY different things and people RAVE about it.
It’s my number one requested recipe and it’s SO EASY.
I use this vinaigrette in soooo many of my recipes. It adds a mayo-free twist to potato salad, shrimp salad and soooo much more. Honestly, this little recipe deserves a blog post of it’s very own!!!
So there you have it!
The -NEW- favorite salad that you knew absolutely nothing about!!!