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Nicoise Salad (French Salad with Tuna)

20 mins Cook
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If there’s someone who can transform canned tuna into a fantastic salad, it’s the French. One of the most renowned renditions is the Nicoise Salad, which incorporates potatoes, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and olives, all topped with a zesty lemon dressing.

Nicoise Salad Nicoise Salad (French Salad with Tuna)

This salad is substantial and intriguing enough for a satisfying lunch, yet it maintains its refreshing, summery character without becoming overly hearty. Although it’s worth noting that I gladly serve this salad throughout the entire year! After a notably extended pause for hydration, the inaugural Holiday Salad Marathon is back on track. In today’s edition, discover how the French work their magic to turn canned tuna into something truly fabulous.

Nicoise Salad (Salade Nicoise)

Nicoise Salad, also known as Salade Nicoise in French, hails from the charming city of Nice in the Provence region of France. Much like cherished traditional recipes, the exact components of an authentic Nicoise salad spark passionate debates.

Pose this question to a French chef, a homemaker, or an average passerby, and each time you’ll receive a distinct response.

Yet, there exist certain commonly accepted elements that harmonize with the Mediterranean origin of the dish, such as olives, beans, tomatoes, boiled eggs, and a type of salted preserved fish.

The following is my preferred rendition of the Nicoise salad. It is designed to provide a gratifying lunch, striking a balance between satiety and the lightness necessary to retain its summery allure and its versatility as a complementary component within a larger dining experience.

What goes in Nicoise Salad

Here’s the lineup for our Nicoise salad:

Canned tuna – Indeed, trusty canned tuna! Tuna in oil surpasses the one in spring water, and keep in mind that not all canned tuna is of the same quality. I’ll be duly impressed if you opt for homemade! Fancy twist: Try Tataki-style seared tuna, sliced to resemble this Tuna Tataki.

Baby potatoes – The norm is to go small, yet you can slice regular potatoes into segments as well;

Boiled eggs – Here, they’re quartered to ensure even distribution. Opt for medium or hard-boiled rather than soft with a runny yolk. Of course, if you’re a fan of that gooey yolk – and I’m certainly in favor – just halve them and place them strategically to prevent yolk spillage;

Black olives – Seek out the finest olives you can lay your hands on. Unpitted Kalamata, Ligurian, or Nicoise olives, whether in brine or oil, stand out;

Tomato, beans & cos/romaine lettuce – These are all staples of the Nicoise Salad tradition; and

Lemon Dressing – Comprising extra virgin olive oil, lemon, garlic, and Dijon Mustard (which helps thicken the dressing for better potato coating).

As mentioned earlier, when it comes to Nicoise salad, rigid guidelines don’t apply. Hence, I’ve also included insights into variations and other ingredients frequently spotted in Nicoise salads. This way, you can craft your ideal version.

Remember, it’s your salad. Don’t let anyone dictate what must or must not be part of it – not even the French!!

Nicoise Salad (French Salad with Tuna)

Nicoise Salad (French Salad with Tuna)

If there's someone who can transform canned tuna into a fantastic salad, it's the French. One of the most renowned renditions is the Nicoise Salad, which incorporates potatoes, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and olives, all topped with a zesty lemon dressing.
prep time
10 mins
cooking time
20 mins
total time
30 mins



  • 8 baby/chat potatoes (Note 1)

  • 120g/ 4 oz green beans , trimmed

  • 2 tomatoes , each cut into 8 – 10 wedges

  • 1/2 baby cos lettuce (romaine) , cut or torn into large bite size pieces

  • 3 hard-boiled eggs , peeled and quartered

  • ¾ cup/ 100g unpitted black olives (Note 2)

  • 250 – 300g/ 8 – 10oz canned chunk tuna in oil , drained and broken into large chunks (Note 3)


  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 small garlic clove , minced/grated

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

  • Pinch black pepper


Dressing: Combine the ingredients in a jar and give it a good shake.
Prepare the potatoes: Boil the potatoes until they reach a tender consistency. After draining, allow them to cool completely before slicing them into halves.
Blanch the beans: Boil the green beans until they are tender, or according to your preference. After boiling, quickly cool them down by rinsing under cold running water. Drain well and pat dry.


Lay out the cos leaves on a wide, spacious plate.
Artfully scatter and layer the remaining components around the plate, culminating with the eggs, olives, and chunks of tuna. Drizzle the dressing over the arrangement and serve!


Potatoes – You can also opt for regular potatoes, peeled and cut into either chunks or slices. Olives – Seek out the finest olives available. Unpitted kalamata, Ligurian, or Nicoise olives in either brine or oil are the top choices. Tuna – Not all tuna varieties are equal! Tuna preserved in oil surpasses its spring water counterpart. Variations: – In lieu of tuna, anchovies are frequently used and arguably hold a more traditional status. About a dozen of them can be gracefully draped over the salad. Modern interpretations sometimes transform the dish into a seafood feast by presenting an entire seared, rare tuna steak atop the salad. – Additional vegetables occasionally found in a Nicoise salad include cucumber, bell pepper, artichokes, broad beans (fava beans), red onion, shallots, and radishes. Soft herbs like parsley or basil also make occasional appearances.
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