Salad Nicoise (pronounced “nee-swaaz”) is a beautiful example of a lovely main dish salad. It uses simple, fresh, available ingredients. Don’t let the fancy-sounding name fool you.
It is not a tossed salad. Instead, in Salad Nicoise, we arrange the components artfully to please the eye as well as the taste buds! When done this way, it’s called a “composed salad,” and it’s just simple farm food easily made beautiful.
The classic version contains lightly steamed green beans, tiny new potatoes, hard-cooked eggs, and tuna or anchovies. In addition, it includes several vegetables that are readily available this time of year, so it’s a perfect choice for the season.
Make This For A Memorable Summer Supper On The Patio With Friends
Last summer, I invited a special guest for dinner. I chose this dish because it’s elegant and beautiful as well as delicious. The salad is a nutritional powerhouse, too, full of green vegetables and cherry tomatoes. As a bonus, the tuna and hard-cooked eggs ensure a complete meal that includes a generous serving of protein.
Here’s another benefit. Salads lend themselves well to conversation because we tend to eat them slowly, bite by bite. That’s makes them great for sharing with friends or family!
Salad Nicoise Is Beautiful And Makes A Complete Meal
Summer is coming, and warm summer nights on the patio. Salad Nicoise is an excellent, crisp, refreshing salad that is a welcome change of pace from a burger on a hot, sultry evening.
This classic salad gets its unique name from the place it originated, the region of Nice in France. “Nicoise” is the term used for things that originated in Nice! There’s your mini French lesson for the day!
When I served it, I chose to add several other ingredients. The plate in this photo included marinated artichoke hearts, capers, cherry tomatoes, olives, and microgreens.
I found both yellow and red baby potatoes, so I decided to use both for more color. Unfortunately, it was impossible to find traditional Nicoise olives that day, so I substituted some tasty dry-cured ones. Salad Nicoise has all the elements for a beautiful presentation.
Find Everything You Need For This Gorgeous Plate At The Farmers’ Market
In season, the ingredients for Salad Nicoise are easy to find at a farmers’ market. All of them are also available in the dazzling produce section of most large grocery stores. However, I always prefer fresh. “Farm to Table” is my motto. Therefore when it’s available, I always choose locally grown produce.
I found beautiful buttercrunch lettuce, grape tomatoes, and perfect, slender green beans at Andrew’s Garden, my go-to produce guy. But, unfortunately, it’s a little early for local, new potatoes, so they came from the supermarket.
Here’s something interesting about Salad Nicoise. There are as many variations in the ingredients as there are in chili! Every chef makes this dish his or her own way. Generally, the main ingredients include small potatoes, tuna, hard-cooked eggs, green beans, and lettuce. After that, it’s whatever is fresh and beautiful.
Here’s How To Assemble Your Colorful Composed Salad
When you’re ready to put everything on the plate, arrange the elements in an eye-pleasing composition. Start with the lettuce leaves as a foundation on this plate. Notice how the sunny yellow yolks of the hard-cooked eggs make a solid focal point. Leave the lightly steamed green beans whole. Next, drain the tuna and serve it in chunky bites. Depending on the size of the small potatoes, either leave them whole or cut them in half.
Finish by adding the brightly colored cherry tomatoes and shiny black olives for a pop of color and flavor, then nestle the marinated artichokes and capers in the little nooks and crannies in between. Finally, a healthy twist of fresh ground pepper and a few microgreens add even more eye appeal!
Serve the dressing on the side. A rustic loaf of bread like sourdough or Italian would be a great accompaniment. This main-dish salad is perfectly served al fresco with a glass of rosé wine. Summer evenings and beautiful salads go together beautifully. Savor both!
Let Your Imagination Soar When You Arrange A Delightful Composed Salad
Not a fan of tuna? Try salmon instead. Or, slice cold grilled steak or chicken into thin ribbons instead. Recently, our daughter used some leftover balsamic pork loin cut into strips. It was a huge hit at her house. And, of course, who wouldn’t love some crisp bacon bits on top? Grated or crumbled cheese, anyone?
You could include deep red kidney beans, cold grilled corn, or bright green defrosted peas. How about lightly steamed asparagus or a scoop of pasta or rice salad? Zucchini noodles? Add sliced cucumbers, strips of red, yellow, or green pepper to add crunch and color. This is a great way to use up leftovers and make them appealing without heating the kitchen again.
- 4 large leaves of buttercrunch lettuce
- 10 tiny new potatoes, boiled until tender
- 3/4 pound fresh slender green beans
- 12 cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 6-ounce can high-quality water-packed white tuna, drained
- 10 Kalamata or other black olives
- 1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- 3 hard-cooked eggs
- 2 Tbsp capers, drained
- a handful of microgreens, optional
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well.
- Steam green beans lightly until crisp-tender and still bright green. Drain well.
- Put eggs in enough cold water to cover them. Bring to a boil, then remove from the burner and let them sit for 20 minutes. Remove shells.
- Refrigerate the eggs, potatoes and green beans for about two hours.
- Arrange lettuce leaves on the plate.
- Divide the tuna into two portions and leave it in chunks. Put tuna on the plate.
- Cut hard-cooked eggs in half lengthwise. Arrange them on the plate.
- If potatoes are bigger than bite-size, cut them in half and arrange them on the plate.
- Continue to add the other components in an eye-pleasing composition.
- Serve with honey-dijon dressing or your choice of dressing.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 604Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 307mgSodium: 533mgCarbohydrates: 92gFiber: 15gSugar: 17gProtein: 37g
Top it off with classic honey-dijon, zingy Italian, creamy Ranch, or your favorite French dressing, sour cream, or even salsa! Summer! It’s a great time to try something new!
Make This Classic Honey Dijon Dressing Just Right For Salad Nicoise
- 2 Tbsp honey, preferably raw local honey
- 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice of one lemon, about 1/2 cup
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
- Fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste
Combine lemon juice with other ingredients and whisk together.
The honey-Dijon dressing is a classic! Honey and mustard have been used for centuries to enhance the flavor of food. Honest, the ancient Romans were making mustard as early as 42 A.D., and the Bible often mentions honey. So, how can you go wrong when you put the two together?
Something magical happens when you combine mustard and honey. The honey tampers down the sharp taste of the mustard, and the mustard cuts the overly sweet taste of pure honey. It’s a marriage made in heaven!
This dressing starts with fresh lemon juice. Here’s a tip for getting the most juice out of fresh lemon. First, give the lemon a quick ride in the microwave for about thirty seconds. This makes the flesh inside expand. Next, roll the warm lemon around on the countertop, pressing gently. You will be rewarded with more juice!
Combine the lemon juice with a few more simple ingredients and shake them all together. You can make up a batch ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to serve it.
Here Are 5 More Delicious Ways You Can Use Honey Dijon Dressing
This honey-mustard combination is a real workhorse that can add loads of flavor to fish or chicken dishes that might otherwise taste bland. For example, stir it into Oriental Chicken Salad to add more oomph! Or, brush it on salmon or chicken while grilling for a big-time flavor boost!
Stir in a little bit of mayonnaise, and it becomes a superb dipping sauce for chicken nuggets or sweet potato fries. Add heavy cream instead of mayo, and it’s a delicious sauce for fish! Finally, drizzle it on a wrap or sandwich and watch it go from bland to grand!
The Festive Finale You Could Serve This For Dessert
Maybe you’re wondering what to serve for dessert following a main dish salad. A rhubarb dessert would be seasonally appropriate and would make a great finish to a meal like this. Something like a rhubarb swirl or a pretty rhubarb skillet cake would be a colorful and festive ending to a summer evening with friends.
I hope you will create a composed salad in your kitchen this summer because it is a feast for the eyes and the tummy! Have you ever eaten a salad made this way? What’s in your favorite salad?
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