My Tossed Salad Niçoise with lemony tarragon dressing is a user friendly version of the French classic tuna salad. This hearty main course salad is just the thing on a steamy night.
Elegant, healthy, and so Continental, Niçoise salads are perfect for summer.
They’re often served as a composed salad, where the individual elements are laid out on a platter, grouped by type. But summer calls for more casual, less structured meals, and the elements of a classic Niçoise are too good to pass up. I’ve decided to toss mine together in a more user friendly manner for tonight’s meal. Sub in shrimp or salmon for a ritzier meal, but don’t miss out on one of summer’s best!
The protein factor in this main course salad is through the roof thanks to the tuna, hard cooked eggs, and beans.
That means you can layer in all kinds of pretty veggies and still have a super satisfying meal. Radishes, green beans, potatoes, olives and capers are all traditional salad Niçoise ingredients. I add some little tomatoes and crunchy cucumber to mine.
I’ve made one of my favorite dressings, a lemony tarragon vinaigrette. The color and flavor is fresh and vibrant, and I love any chance to use tarragon, it makes any dish feel instantly more elegant 🙂 I’m talking about fresh tarragon here, dried will not give you the same effect.
How to preserve fresh tarragon ~
Tarrragon is such a wonderful herb but it can be hard to find in some areas. No worries, there are a bunch of ways to preserve it for later…
- You can dry fresh tarragon in several ways. First, you can use a dehydrator if you’ve got one. Dry the whole stems, then remove the leaves, give them a chop, and store in a small airtight jar.
- You can also do this in the oven: set your clean dry tarragon sprigs on parchment paper and put into an oven set at its lowest setting. Leave the door ajar and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the herbs are completely dried. Proceed as above.
- You can also use your microwave to dry herbs instantly! See my instructions on How To Dry Herbs in the Microwave.
- You can hang them to dry. You can tie several sprigs together with twine and hang them, upside down, in a dark place to dry naturally.
- You can freeze fresh tarragon. Strip the leaves and fit them into an ice cube tray. Fill each cube with water or oil. When completely frozen, put the cubes into zip lock freezer bags and use as needed for sauces, soups, and stews.
- You can infuse tarragon into vinegar. I love to do this because it’s so convenient for salad dressings, the flavor’s already there! See my DIY Tarragon Vinegar post for instructions.
Salad Niçoise epitomizes the healthy Mediterranean diet
Now we toss it all together with some crisp romaine lettuce for the final effect. It’s delicious, healthy, Mediterranean, and definitely not fussy.
Chopped Salad Niçoise
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2-3 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves, stripped from the stem
- salt to taste
- 2 handfuls of chopped romaine lettuce
- 4 ounces of your favorite canned tuna, I love the kind that is packed in olive oil.
- 2 hard cooked eggs, rough chopped
- several radishes, sliced in half or quartered
- a small baby cucumber, sliced
- a handful of cherry tomatoes
- several small cooked new potatoes or pee wee potatoes, I used white and purple. halve, quarter, or slice them, depending on size.
- a cup of cooked fresh green or green and yellow waxed beans, cut in bite sized pieces
- a handful of pitted olives, sliced or halved if large
- 1 Tbsp capers
- a cup of canned white beans
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- To make the dressing blend everything in a small food processor to emulsify. Taste to adjust any of the ingredients, and set aside. You can also use an immersion blender.
- Put the salad ingredients in a large shallow bowl and gently toss with the dressing to moisten. Season with salt and pepper to taste.