Bask in the elegance of a stunning Tuna Nicoise Salad as you transport yourself to the French Riviera! Ideal for summer, this refreshing and nutritious meal offers a delightful combination of flavors and health benefits. In our twist on the classic Nicoise salad, we’ve opted for fresh and succulent seared tuna instead of traditional canned tuna. We’ve also excluded hard-boiled eggs since the tuna provides ample protein and refinement (and they repulse certain people that shall remain nameless). As summer unfolds, there’s no better time to savor a revitalizing and wholesome Tuna Nicoise Salad recipe that makes for a perfect light lunch or dinner.
To create the ultimate Salad Nicoise, it’s essential to select high-quality ingredients that elevate your dish from ordinary to extraordinary. The key to an exceptional salad lies in the careful selection of each component.
- Baby potatoes: Adding a comforting and filling element to the salad while providing essential vitamins and minerals. The best potatoes to use in a Nicoise salad are small, waxy varieties that hold their shape well when cooked and have a creamy texture. Baby or new potatoes, Fingerling potatoes, Red-skinned potatoes, or as a last resort Yukon Gold potatoes.
- Green beans: A crisp and nutritious addition that adds fiber and antioxidants. For a perfect Nicoise salad, the best green beans to use are fresh, young, and slender green beans, also known as haricots verts or French green beans. These beans have a tender texture and a delicate, sweet flavor.
- Tomatoes: A juicy and flavorful source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium. Make sure you use ripe, flavorful tomatoes that hold their shape well when cut. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or small heirloom tomatoes are excellent choices because of their size, taste, and vibrant colors. You can also use Roma or plum tomatoes if you prefer a meatier texture.
- Radishes: Providing a peppery crunch and a boost of vitamin C.
- Kalamata olives: A salty and tangy touch, rich in healthy fats.
- Anchovies: A savory and umami-packed ingredient, high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Capers: A piquant and briny addition that adds a burst of flavor and is rich in antioxidants.
- Ahi Tuna steaks: A lean protein source that’s rich in omega-3s and B-vitamins.
- Tuna seasoning: a blend like Herbes de Provence is a natural choice since this salad is a staple of the Provence region. I find that Everything But the Bagel Seasoning (garlic and onion flakes, salt and sesame seeds) is also excellent and compliments the flavors of the salad.
- Dressing: the star of the show that binds everything together: our very Best Vinaigrette Recipe (shallots, garlic, Dijon mustard, grainy mustard, white wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper)
Mastering the Art: Steps to Crafting the Perfect Nicoise Salad
It may sound and look like a fancy dish, but this Tuna Nicoise Salad recipe is not a difficult dish to make, as it primarily involves assembling a variety of fresh ingredients. Although some components, such as preparing fresh green beans, require simple cooking techniques, the overall process is relatively straightforward and accessible for cooks of all skill levels. Here are the main steps:
- Make the dressing.
- Boil the potatoes.
- Blanch the green beans.
- Chop tomatoes and radishes.
- Sear the tuna.
- Assemble the salad.
Making the Nicoise Salad Dressing
Just like picking fresh flavorful ingredients is crucial, our Tuna Nicoise Salad recipe calls for a fresh and flavorful salad dressing. Enter: our very Best Vinaigrette Recipe (follow the link for full details). It takes 5 minutes to whip it up, and will be the wow factor in your Tuna Nicoise salad. By preparing the vinaigrette first, you allow its flavors to meld beautifully while you focus on the subsequent steps.
How to Boil Potatoes
To boil baby potatoes for your salad, follow these simple steps:
- Clean the baby potatoes: Gently scrub the potatoes under running water to remove any dirt or debris. There’s no need to peel them, as the skin is thin and tender.
- Place the potatoes in a pot: Add the cleaned potatoes to a a large pot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover them by about an inch. Add a generous pinch of salt.
- Bring to a boil: Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Cook the potatoes: Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, maintaining a gentle simmer. Cook the baby potatoes for 12-15 minutes, or until they are just tender when you insert a knife. The exact cooking time may vary depending on the size of the potatoes. Whichever potato variety you have chosen, make sure to cook them until just tender.
- Drain and cool: When the potatoes are cooked through, carefully drain the water using a colander. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly before cutting them in half or using them whole in your salad. If you prefer, you can also rinse the potatoes under cold running water to speed up the cooling process.
How to Blanch Green Beans
A standout feature of an impeccable Salade Nicoise is the presence of vivid green and crisp green beans. The key to achieving this lies in blanching them. Blanching green beans not only maintains their lively color and crunchy texture but also preserves their nutrients.
Here’s how to master the art of blanching green beans:
- Wash and trim: Start by thoroughly rinsing the green beans under cold water. Remove the stem ends by snapping or cutting them off with a knife.
- Boil water: Fill a large pot with water, add a pinch of salt, and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat.
- Prepare an ice bath: While you’re waiting for the water to boil, fill a large bowl with cold water and add a generous amount of ice cubes. This ice bath will be used to stop the cooking process and cool the green beans quickly.
- Blanch the green beans: Once the water is boiling, carefully add the prepared green beans to the pot. Cook them for 4-5 minutes, depending on their size and your desired level of tenderness. Keep an eye on the beans to ensure they maintain their bright green color.
- Shock in the ice bath: Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the green beans from the boiling water and immediately transfer them to the ice bath. This will halt the cooking process and help retain their vibrant color and crisp texture.
- Drain and pat dry: After the green beans have cooled in the ice bath for a minute or two, remove them and place them on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to drain any excess water. Pat them dry before adding them to your platter.
How to Sear Tuna Steaks
We’ve covered this subject in this post: Easy Seared Tuna with Herbs (follow the link for full details). There’s nothing to it. Just remember not to overcook your tuna. One minute on each side is all it takes! Note that the tuna in this Summer Nicoise Salad is meant to be served at room temperature.
Assembling your Tuna Nicoise Salad
With your potatoes, green beans, vinaigrette, and tuna prepared, you’re ready to put together your salad. Ensure that each ingredient is presented well on the platter, maintaining its distinct character. Remember, this is a composed salad, not a tossed one.
Halve the cherry tomatoes or slice larger tomatoes, and quarter the radishes. Organize the green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and radishes on a serving platter. Position the seared tuna at the center, and garnish with olives, anchovies and capers. You have the option to drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad or serve it separately, allowing guests to add it to their plates as desired.
Substitutions And Variations
- Use canned tuna instead of fresh tuna steaks.
- For a vegan option, replace tuna with chickpeas or white beans and omit anchovies.
- Replace white wine vinegar with lemon juice.
- Add hard-boiled eggs for extra protein and a more traditional Niçoise salad.
- Serve on a bed of lettuce.
- Include other vegetables like cucumber, bell peppers or carrots for added crunch and nutrients.
- Use any herb blend of your choice to season the tuna, along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Advance Preparation Tips
To prepare Tuna Nicoise Salad in advance, follow these tips:
- Cook the potatoes and green beans ahead of time. Store them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
- Prepare the vinaigrette a day in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This allows the flavors to meld and develop.
- Wash and cut the tomatoes, radishes, olives, and anchovies, and store them in separate containers in the refrigerator.
- When it comes to searing the tuna, it’s best to do this closer to serving time to ensure optimal freshness and texture. However, if necessary, sear the tuna beforehand and store it in the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature before assembling the salad.
- For assembly, arrange the ingredients on a platter, keeping each component separate to maintain their individual integrity. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad or serve it on the side.
By following these steps, you can prepare most of the Tuna Niçoise Salad components in advance, making final assembly quick and easy when it’s time to serve.
What To Serve With Nicoise Salad?
This salad stands on its own as a full, satisfying and balanced meal. If you wish, serve with a slice of crusty bread. And a glass of Rose wine!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Keep the dressing separate to maintain freshness.
Is This Tuna Nicoise Salad Recipe Healthy?
Absolutely! This classic French dish is not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients and health benefits. The combination of lean protein from the tuna, healthy fats from the kalamata olives and anchovies, and an array of vitamins and minerals from the vegetables make it a well-rounded and nutritious meal. Our version features a high ratio of non-starchy vegetables for perfect plate proportions. Moreover, the Nicoise salad dressing contains heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil and flavorful ingredients like Dijon mustard, which add depth to the dish without excessive calories. As a result, you can enjoy a satisfying and tasty Nicoise salad while knowing that you’re making a smart choice for your overall health and well-being.
Although a classic Salade Nicoise is not inherently low in sodium, it can still be incorporated into a low-sodium diet by considering the day’s overall sodium intake. To modify the recipe for lower sodium content, follow these recommendations: minimize or eliminate anchovies, olives, and capers; halve the salt quantity in the vinaigrette; exclude salt when boiling potatoes and green beans; and refrain from salting the tuna prior to searing. With these adjustments, you can enjoy a healthier version of Salade Nicoise that aligns with a low-sodium diet.
No more canned tuna – it’s time to elevate your Nicoise salad game with fresh and healthy ingredients. This salad is not only rich in nutrients but also flavorful and fulfilling. With its beautiful presentation, you can serve it as a light lunch or a hearty dinner with friends and family.
So, don’t hesitate – give this recipe a try and let us know in the comments below how it turned out for you!
More Favorite Recipes
Tuna Nicoise Salad
- 8 oz baby potatoes
- 1 lb fresh green beans (haricots verts)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes or other ripe flavorful tomatoes
- 1 lb ahi tuna steaks, 3 to 4 oz each
- 1 tbsp Seasoning blend of choice (Herbes de Provence or Everything but the Bagel)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup radishes
- 8 Kalamata olives
- 8 canned anchovies fillets
- 2 tbsp capers drained
Make the Dressing
- Place in a mixing bowl: Dijon and grainy mustards, minced shallot, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Add white wine vinegar and whisk until salt is dissolved.
- Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified.
- Set aside while preparing the salad.
Boil the Potatoes
- Gently scrub the potatoes under running water to remove any dirt or debris. There's no need to peel them, as the skin is thin and tender.
- Add the cleaned potatoes to a large pot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover them by about an inch. Add a generous pinch of salt.
- Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, maintaining a gentle simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until they are just tender when you insert a knife. The exact cooking time may vary depending on the size of the potatoes.
- When the potatoes are cooked through, carefully drain the water using a colander. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly before cutting them in half or using them whole in your salad. You can also rinse the potatoes under cold running water to speed up the cooling process.
Blanch the Green Beans
- Thoroughly rinse the green beans under cold water. Remove the stem ends by snapping or cutting them off with a knife.
- Refill the same pot with a large amount of water, add a large pinch of salt, and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat.
- While you're waiting for the water to boil, fill a large bowl with cold water and add a generous amount of ice cubes. This ice bath will be used to stop the cooking process and cool the green beans quickly while retaining their vibrant color and crisp texture.
- Once the water is boiling, carefully add the green beans to the pot. Cook them for 4-5 minutes, depending on their size and your desired level of tenderness. Keep an eye on the beans to ensure they maintain their bright green color.
- Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the green beans from the boiling water and immediately transfer them to the ice bath.
- After the green beans have cooled in the ice bath for a minute or two, remove them and place them on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to drain any excess water. Pat them dry before adding them to your platter.
Sear the Tuna Steaks
- Preheat a cast iron skillet (or non-stick skillet) on medium high heat.
- Pat dry the tuna steaks with a paper towel.
- Rub one side of the steaks lightly with a few drops of olive or avocado oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and half of your seasoning of choice.
- Flip the steaks over and repeat the seasoning. Press gently to make sure the herbs and seeds adhere to the steak.
- Once the skillet is properly heated (it should be very hot), turn on your kitchen fan on high. Pour in the rest of the oil and immediately add the tuna.
- Cook one minute, then flip and sear the other side for one minute. Ahi tuna is best served very rare, so be careful not to overcook.
- Once both sides are evenly browned, place on a cutting board to rest.
Assemble the Salad
- Halve the cherry tomatoes or slice larger tomatoes, and quarter the radishes.
- Organize the green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and radishes on a serving platter. Position the seared tuna at the center (whole or sliced if you wish), and garnish with olives, anchovies and capers.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad or serve it separately, allowing guests to add it to their plates as desired.