Nicoise Salad is a French salad that originated in the city of Nice. It is traditionally made with tomatoes, green beans, hard boiled eggs, olives, anchovies and fresh or canned tuna.
I think it is an ideal meal to serve guests in the summer. You can arrange the ingredients separately, or create a beautiful plate or platter with everything on it. The tuna can be grilled and then added to the salad – which brings everyone outside in the summer. Basically it is a one dish meal, and served with a French baguette I think it is the perfect summer meal!
The first thing you need to do is purchase some really good fresh tuna from the fish store. We used Ahi steaks which were really good – but Albacore works well too. Remember it is safe to buy 1/2 lb. per person. I just rubbed it with a little oil and slat & pepper before grilling. (You can always eat any left the next day!)
The dressing is a simple dijon, garlic vinaigrette:
- 3/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of white or red wine vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 – 2 TB. of minced shallot or red onion
- 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
- 1 – 2 teaspoon of minced fresh thyme
- 1 – 2 TB. of minced fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar or honey
salt & pepper to taste
- greens – enough for at least 1 cup per person
- thin french green beans – a handful per person (blanched until just lightly cooked and then immersed in an ice bath)
- baby potatoes (2 – 3 per person (boiled until a knife pierces easily)
- tomatoes – enough for at least a handful per person
- nicoise or kalamata olives
- red onion (sliced thinly)
- red pepper (cut into thin strips)
- radishes – a few per person (thinly sliced)
- hard boiled eggs enough for 1 – 2 per person (peeled and halved or quartered)
- 1/4 cup of capers
- anchovies are traditional but optional (if you don’t love them – the capers substitute the salty flavor)
- * prepare your vegetables and chill in the fridge
Boil the baby potatoes until tender. (a knife inserts easily) Quarter and add a little of the dressing to the bowl and salt & pepper – then refrigerate.
Blanch the green beans in boiling water for just a minute or two until lightly cooked but still crunchy. Immediately immerse in an ice bath to stop the cooking.
Drizzle with a little of the vinaigrette and add some salt & pepper and refrigerate.
Grill the tuna steaks until just lightly grilled on each side – but still pink on the inside (about 3 minutes per side)
To prepare the salad make an artful arrangement of all the ingredients on each plate or on a very large serving platter. Or let the guest assemble their own plates – whichever you prefer.
Pass the vinaigrette and serve with an oven warmed loaf of French style bread. Your family & guests will love this salad and it will become a special summer “go to” meal each year!