This vibrant and delicious Salade niçoise was originally introduced to me by my mother Louise, who is an amazing cook and liked to teach me things from her French heritage. We first made this salad together for a holiday celebration at my school French class around 1987. I rediscovered this timeless salad several years ago, and enjoy making it a little differently each time. The dressing is a very basic vinaigrette that gets its distinctive taste from Dijon mustard. Check out the variations in the recipe and photos for more ideas.
Apparently, there are very strong feelings about what should or should not be included in a Salade niçoise. See the commentary on wikipedia for a run down of the “rules” if you want to be a “traditionalist” when it comes to making this salad! For instance, some defend that there should be no cooked vegetables in this salad. And it should have anchovies and eggs. I say, make it however you like it, and enjoy it! And maybe you can just call it “my favorite salad” if someone criticizes you for not making the authentic niçoise.
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- 1 pound fingerling potatoes
- 4 cups mixed field greens or 1 head butter lettuce
- 1 cup artichoke hearts, sliced in half
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, sliced or 1 cup baby tomatoes
- ½ cup kalamata or niçoise olives, pitted and sliced in half
- 2 tablespoons capers
- ¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar or lemon juice with mustard. Add a few pinches of salt and a grind or two of black pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil with a few pinches of sea salt. Add green beans and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain green beans and spread them out on a plate or platter to cool.
- Scrub potatoes and peel away any blemishes. Place potatoes and a few pinches of sea salt in a pot and cover with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and let simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Drain and place into a bowl. When cool, slice large potatoes in half or into several pieces, if desired.
- Arrange lettuce on large platter or individual plates. Place green beans, potatoes, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes on top of lettuce in distinct rows or mounds. Sprinkle olives and capers over the top. Drizzle the entire salad with some of the dressing, then sprinkle chopped parsley over the top.
- Serve with roasted salmon or canned tuna packed in olive oil, if desired.
- If you are able to find colorful fingerling potatoes, such as red or purple varieties, these look very beautiful in the salad.
- Add cooked white beans such as giant Peruvian limas or butter beans.
- Add quinoa or quinoa with chickpeas.
- Omit cucumbers if not in season.
- Add 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half.
Here are some other variations of the salad I have tried in recent years.
With golden fingerling potatoes and baby San Marzano tomatoes:
With quinoa and chickpeas and roasted salmon:
Arranged in a radial pattern, with plenty of artichokes!
I hope you enjoy making this salad, and please let me know if you come up with some new and delicious versions!