In summer I often crave a big salad bowl. A bowl or dish that has it all: a little protein, some healthy fats, starches, fresh herbs and vegetables and maybe even a handful of legumes. Salade Niçoise is my go-to when I have such cravings. It really is a one bowl (or plate) fits all meal. I discovered while living in this region (such a lucky girl!!) that the original or authentic Salade Niçoise is a little different than what we see today in North America. It didn’t have cooked eggs, potatoes or even green beans, nor did they use vinegar or tuna!! Like most recipes it did change over time as the agriculture changed and industrialization occurred. Though nowadays the standard recipe would include lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, olives, eggs, tuna and anchovies and often some potatoes. I was told by several French chefs, what “a real” Salade Niçoise should look like, but each version was slightly different depending on where I was around Nice. The key being they all used the freshest, local ingredients. I can’t say I had a favorite version because I love throwing in non-traditional items like artichoke hearts or sliced radish. I do try to employ a similar approach using fresh herbs from our garden and local vegetables.
Tuna is also another item we don’t always serve in our Salade Niçoise given its high mercury content. When we do eat tuna we spend a little extra and buy a higher quality tuna steak or we use canned skipjack tuna which is much safer or we switch the tuna out for another meaty fish like wild salmon. Lots of modifications available with this salad but here is our favorite version.
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1.6 oz haricot verts (French green beans)
1 Boston or cos lettuce
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, deseeded & chopped
½ cup fava, lima or broad beans
½ small red onion, sliced into thin rings
1 (2 oz) flat fillet anchovies packed in olive oil, drained
½ cup Niçoises olives, pitted
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lbs tuna steaks
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.
- In a medium pot, bring 3-4 cups of water to a boil. Top and tail the green beans while water is coming to a boil. Cook beans in hot water for 4-5 minutes or until they begin to be pliable yet still firm. Drain beans and submerge into a bowl of ice water. Let stand for a minute, drain in a colander and set aside.
- Lay the lettuce leaves across the bottom of a large serving plate. Arrange the vegetables and beans in individual rows across the lettuce leaves.
- Rinse the anchovies under cold water, pulling off any bones or whiskers. Pat dry with a paper towel and cut into small pieces. Sprinkle over the anchovies, olives, basil, oregano and parsley evenly over the salad. Whisk the dressing again and drizzle over the salad.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan or heat up your grill. Sear or grill tuna for 3-4 minutes a side, until cooked to desired doneness. Transfer tuna to a cutting board, season with salt and pepper and slice into half-inch strips. Place over salad and serve.
Yields about 4-5 servings.
Vegetarian or you want some extra protein, add in two hard boiled eggs sliced into quarters. If you cannot get your hands on fresh tuna steaks, try this salad with salmon steaks in stead or replace the steaks with two 5 oz cans of tuna packed in good quality olive oil (drained).
To make a the more modern day version, add ½ pound of boiled new potatoes. Or try with some additional vegetables such as cucumber and radishes.