How to Make the Perfect Niçoise Salad ~ this healthy main course tuna 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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
- 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
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more lemon juice if you like.
- Put the lettuce in a wide shallow salad bowl or platter and arrange the tarragon leaves over the lettuce.
- 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.
- Arrange the cucumber slices and carrots in little piles next to the beans.
- 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.
- Put the tuna in the center of the salad and top with the capers. Scatter the fresh dill over all.
- 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.