How to Make the Perfect Niçoise Salad ~ this healthy main course salad is one of the best ever invented… it’s colorful, protein packed, and so satisfying ~ the French just have a flair for putting together simple but powerful flavors.

*This post is is sponsored by Genova Seafood®  – thank you for supporting me and my brand partners – I only work with companies that I love, and they help keep TVFGI up and cooking!

How to Make the Perfect Nicoise Salad ~ this main course salad is gorgeous, full of protein, and utterly delicious!

I think every cook should know how to throw a Niçoise (pronounced nee-swaz) salad together.  In fact, if you’ve got a reasonably well stocked kitchen, you probably have most if not all of the ingredients right there in your pantry and fridge.  It makes an impromptu dinner that you can customize to any season, and it’s an eye-popping centerpiece when you want to impress.  Everybody from Martha Stewart to Gwyneth Paltrow has put their spin on it… mine dials up the color with purple fingerling potatoes, bright heirloom radishes, fire engine red Little Beak peppers, (I found those at my supermarket’s olive bar!) and golden cherry tomatoes.  Genova wild caught albacore tuna anchors it all.

How to Make the Perfect Salad Nicoise ~ a colorful and healthy main course salad ~

Nicoise Salad is an example of a composed salad.  That just means the ingredients are artfully arranged instead of tossed.

I’m a huge fan of the technique, I think it makes a salad so beautiful and so much more enticing.  You can do this on a large platter or in a wide shallow bowl.  (You can also create individual salad plates.)  The presentation is gorgeous, and makes a particularly good choice for entertaining ~ perfect for a spring holiday table, a book club luncheon, or a Mother’s Day brunch.  A lot of the salads I do here on the blog are composed salads, and it’s a fun technique to play with.  You can read more about it and see examples in my 7 Tips for Show Stopping Salads. 

How to Make the Perfect Salad Nicoise ~ a colorful and healthy main course salad ~

Of course the highlight of any Salad Nicoise is the tuna.  But not just any tuna…it should be top quality tuna in olive oil for the best flavor and texture.  The Europeans have been enjoying premium canned tuna for generations, in fact it’s considered a luxury food over there, but we Americans are a little late getting the memo.

How to Make the Perfect Salad Nicoise ~ a colorful and healthy main course salad ~

Genova tuna has a fresh, delicate flavor with zero fishy odor or canned taste.  If you have any members of your family who turn their noses up at tuna, try Genova, it converted my daughter, and she was a tough one!  I love the new flip top cans, too, because I don’t even have to haul out the can opener when I need a mid-day protein boost.

Genova Albacore Tuna for Nicoise Salad

Genova has just launched an interesting app that allows you to trace the source, processing location and fishing method of your specific can of tuna, how cool is that?  You can check it out HERE

When you enter the code from the bottom of your tuna can you’ll get all this info~

  • What is My Tuna?  They’ll identify your species and tell you a little bit about it.
  • Where Was My Tuna Caught? These results include a world map showing the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Area where the tuna or other seafood was caught, and a link to a species-specific stock status report from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF).
  • What Fishing Method Was Used? This section includes both the fishing method and vessel size.
  • What Fishing Vessel Caught My Tuna? This information includes fishing vessel name, nation of registry and fishing trip start and end dates.
  • Where was My Tuna Processed and Canned? The can code indicates where the seafood was processed and canned.
  • How Does Genova Support Sustainability?

These are really important questions if care about your own health and the health of the planet ~ bravo Genova!


How to Make the Perfect Salad Nicoise

Yield: serves 4-6

How to Make the Perfect Salad Nicoise


  • 1 small head of crisp lettuce, your choice, rinsed, dried, and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
  • 3 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 cup white beans, either navy or cannellini, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
  • handful baby carrots, raw
  • 1 cup baby purple potatoes, cooked and halved
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • about 6 baby radishes
  • handful green beans, preferably French, lightly steamed
  • 2-3 hard cooked eggs, halved
  • 1/3 cup Bird Beak peppers
  • 1/3 cup black olives, your choice, I used oil cured
  • 1-2 cans Genova Albacore Tuna in olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more lemon juice if you like.
  2. Put the lettuce in a wide shallow salad bowl or platter and arrange the tarragon leaves over the lettuce.
  3. Toss the beans with a little of the dressing, and some of the fresh dill. Pile the beans into a heap on the edge of the salad, leaving the center free for the tuna.
  4. Arrange the cucumber slices and carrots in little piles next to the beans.
  5. Toss the potatoes with a little of the dressing and dill, and add them to the salad. Arrange the tomatoes, radishes, green beans, eggs, peppers, and olives in a similar manner all around the edge of the platter.
  6. Put the tuna in the center of the salad and top with the capers. Scatter the fresh dill over all.
  7. Drizzle with the dressing just before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste.


  • Please don’t stress over exact amounts…my measurements are just guidelines, fill your platter with the ingredients in any way you see fit and it will be delicious!
  • Other possible Nicoise salad ingredients are anchovies, artichokes, red onion, asparagus, bell peppers, marinated mushrooms, marinated feta or mozarella cheese, watercress, basil, etc.

Don’t forget to pin it!

How to Make the Perfect Nicoise Salad ~ a beautiful and healthy main course salad for all seasons! ~ French | canned tuna | composed salad |

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26 Responses to How to Make the Perfect Niçoise Salad

  1. Love this salad! I usually compose individual plates when I’m making this — more work, but worth doing. And this dish cries out for canned tuna (good stuff, of course, like you used). It’s nice with a tuna steak plopped on top, but it’s just not the same. Good stuff — thanks.

  2. Taylor Kiser says:

    Composed salads are so gorgeous! Love all the colors and flavors! Your nicoise salad looks so delicious!

  3. Mantras says:

    This looks so good! So pretty!

  4. I puffy heart Genova tuna. Love this salad!

  5. Your salad is beautifully presented and more substantial than most. It is really a lovely meal.

  6. This salad is just gorgeous and so beautifully arranged. If only my Monday lunch looked this good! ;)

  7. Wow, Sue, such a perfect salad to showcase some delicious tuna! I just love heirloom radishes – so dang cute! So are the golden tomatoes. You’re making me long for summer. I agree with Tricia, your salads are always a work of art. Shared :)

  8. What a gorgeous salad! I had my first Niçoise Salad in Italy a few years ago and have been obsessed ever since!

  9. That really does look perfect! So bright and refreshing and makes me think of Spring!

  10. Everyone should know how to make a salad so beautiful! Love it!

  11. This salad is absolutely gorgeous!! I love nicoise so much!

  12. JWT says:

    You had me at ‘zero fishy odor’. I can’t stand tuna that smells like cat food! I’ll check out Genova, I think I saw it at TJs.

  13. OMG! This is the prettiest salad I’ve ever seen! I almost don’t want to eat it. Ok that’s a lie.

  14. So apparently I’ve been pronouncing nicoise wrong this whole time! hahaha.. This looks gorgeous! And I’ll look for that tuna- I’m always trying to figure out which canned tuna to buy!

    • Sue says:

      Haha ~ I always wonder whether to include the little pronunciation thing, but it sometimes comes in handy :) And go for the Genova, Sarah, you won’t be disappointed!

  15. That is a beautiful looking salad. Love how simple elements come together to create such a flavourful dish. Perfect for lunch or dinner.

  16. Erren says:

    This is the best salad I’ve ever seen!

  17. I LOVE how colorful this is. A full plate of gorgeousness!! The dressing sounds yum.

  18. This is BEYOND gorgeous!! I just love all of these colors!

  19. Absolutely beautiful! Love a nicoise salad and yours is perfect :)

  20. This could be the BEST Nicoise salad that I have ever seen, Sue.

  21. Wow, – this is a perfect salad indeed. Except that it’s not my lunch today! Love that app too, really cool!

  22. Oh my this is one gorgeous plates of deliciousness! You are a salad artist for sure. Love all these colors and flavors and I bet the dressing is great. Super video too! Love it :)

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