Classic Nicoise Salad – A couple of chefs

Nicoise Salad is a French main dish that is hearty and satisfying! This colorful Mediterranean recipe is ideal for summer or anytime.

Nicoise salad

When it comes to classic French dishes, there’s nothing better than the carefree atmosphere of the big Nicoise salad. This Mediterranean Main Dish Salad is colourful, light yet satisfying and absolutely perfect for summer. Boiled eggs, green beans, olives, tomatoes, and spicy potato salad sit atop crisp lettuce, then smothered in a tangy lemon dressing. Eat it al fresco with a glass of wine in hand and you will be transported to the South of France!

What is Nicoise salad?

Nicoise salad (Nicoise salad in French) is a French composite salad served as a main course, with tuna, potatoes, blanched green beans, olives, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and a vinaigrette salad dressing. In French it means “salad from Nice, France” and is a classic dish from the south coast. Because it’s packed with protein, it’s filling and incredibly satisfying.

How do you pronounce Nicoise? Say “sah-LAHD nee-SWAZ”.

This salad is one of our absolute favorites for summer entertaining because it’s easy to make ahead of time and has the perfect laid-back summer vibes. We could eat this every day! It’s ideal for patio meals with a cool white wine, spritz, or French cocktail (pastis perhaps?).

Nicoise salad

Nicoise salad ingredients

Eating our first Nicoise salad in Paris cemented this French classic in our repertoire. This recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s interpretation of the French standard. What makes it so impressive are the potatoes: their French potato salad is the base for the potatoes and it’s so delicious you won’t be able to help but sneak into it. This is what goes into a classic Nicoise salad recipe:

  1. Tuna: Tuna is traditional in Nicoise salad – this dish is not the same without it! You can also use other proteins: white beans, grilled tofu, or make a Salmon Nicoise Salad! You can also try it with Seared Tuna as a variation.
  2. Boiled eggs: Make perfect hard-boiled eggs on the stovetop, steam eggs, or try them in the Instant Pot.
  3. Green beans: This salad calls for blanched green beans, a cooking method that makes them tender and bright green.
  4. French Potato Salad: Here is the best part! Use red potatoes to make a French potato salad with shallots, capers, and a vinaigrette dressing.
  5. Olives: The olives are key to the salty, savory flavor. Look for Niçoise olives if you can find them, or use Kalamata. (You can also add some caper berries if you like.)
  6. Tomatoes: Here cherry tomatoes or large tomato wedges work well.
  7. butter lettuce: Crisp Bibb or butter lettuce serves as the base for the flavors.
  8. Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing: A zingy lemon vinaigrette salad dressing ties everything together.
Blanch Green Beans

Tips for preparation

This Nicoise salad recipe is easy to make, but there are quite a few items to prepare. Fortunately, you can make many of the components at the same time or ahead of time, and you can prepare everything before serving (no need to do anything just before serving, other than plating). Here are some tips for advanced preparation:

  • Prepare the hard-boiled eggs in advance. Eggs are ideal for advanced preparation – just refrigerate until serving. You can also find prepackaged hard-boiled eggs at some grocery stores, which makes this recipe a breeze.
  • Make the dressing ahead of time. Nicoise Salad Dressing is easy to make ahead of time; refrigerate and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
  • Blanch the green beans in advance. Blanch green beans up to 5 days in advance and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Prepare the potato salad in advance. French potato salad lasts 4-5 days if you make it ahead of time; refrigerate until serving.

Pick even 1 or 2 of these items to make ahead of time, and it makes prep that much simpler on prep day. If you decide to do it all in one night, it’s nice to have a friend or partner to help you out!

Nicoise salad

How to Serve Nicoise Salad

Nicoise Salad is the perfect spring salad or summer meal to enjoy outdoors. Call out for a glass of white or rosé wine (or even iced rosé?), a Lillet spritz or a pastis. Serve it with a crostini entree or a side of crusty bread, and you’ve got patio fare perfection.

diet variations

Do you want to make vegetarian nicoise salad? Tuna is traditional for Nicoise salad, but for a vegetarian salad you can omit it and use white beans or tofu instead. Or you can just skip the extra protein—the potatoes and hard-boiled eggs make for a hearty vegetarian salad.

Do you want to make it vegan? Use seasoned tofu instead of tuna! We recommend Quick Tofu Crumbles.

More dinner salad recipes

There’s nothing better than a great main course salad in the summer! Here are a few more entrée salads that work for dinner:

This Nicoise salad recipe is…

Gluten free and pescatarian.


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Nicoise Salad is a French main dish that is hearty and satisfying! This colorful Mediterranean recipe is ideal for summer or anytime.

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 pounds of baby red potatoes
  • 1 pound of fresh green beans
  • 1 small shallot (2 tablespoons chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons White wine vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ½ tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup Nicoise or Kalamata olives
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes or 1 big tomato
  • 2 tuna cans, packed in oil or water
  • 1 head of Bibb lettuce (also known as butter lettuce)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

  1. Cook the hard-boiled eggs: Follow directions for making hard-boiled eggs or steamed hard-boiled eggs, or complete this step ahead of time and refrigerate.
  2. Boil the potatoes: Fill a large pot with cold water and add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the whole potatoes and bring to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 8 to 12 minutes until tender.
  3. Blanch the beans: Cut the ends of the beans. Bring a separate medium pot of water to a boil with ½ tablespoon of salt. Boil the beans for about 5 minutes until they are tender but still bright green. Prepare a large bowl of ice water (or use the same as for hard-boiled eggs). Just when the beans are tender, remove them from the boiling water with tongs and transfer them to the ice bath. Remove the beans and pat them dry with a towel, then toss them with a few pinches of salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Finish the potatoes: While the potatoes are cooking, chop the shallot. When the potatoes are ready, drain them. When they are cool enough to handle, cut them into small pieces. Place them in a bowl and gently mix the chopped shallot, white wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ cup warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes, stirring gently occasionally. Then add the capers, chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and some ground black pepper. Taste and add additional salt if needed.
  5. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Gradually add 6 tablespoons of olive oil working one tablespoon at a time, until creamy and emulsified.
  6. Prepare the salad ingredients: Cut the tomatoes into wedges (or cherry tomatoes in half) and sprinkle with a little kosher salt.
  7. Prepare the tuna: Drain the tuna and flake it with a fork. If it is not packed in oil, add a drizzle of olive oil and a few pinches of salt.
  8. Attend: To serve, in large shallow bowls or large platters, add Bibb lettuce leaves. Top with the potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, tuna, and olives. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: hundred guns
  • Kitchen: French
  • Diet: Without gluten

Keywords: nicoise salad, nicoise salad, nicoise salad recipe, nicoise salad

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