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Niçoise Salad  – 101 Cookbooks

Let’s talk about Niçoise Salad. It’s an arrangement traditionally made with ingredients local to the Provencal city of Nice. Purists often argue that a proper salad Niçoise has a long list of hard nos. No lettuces, no boiled potatoes, green beans are out, avocados (lol), no vinaigrette, and on and on. The list is extensive and if you want a deeper dive into the history, read this. What is allowed? Olive oil-packed anchovies and raw tomatoes, and salt. Many versions have evolved from this including the one I make most.

Nicoise Salad: The Inspiration

In recent years Niçoise salad has become a frequent “go-to” when we have friends or family over. This is because arranged on a platter it is a gorgeous, abundant, queen of a salad. More important, in this modern age, it can accommodate nearly everyone’s dietary preferences. This is no small feat here in Los Angeles and a huge win-win in my book. This version works for vegans and vegetarians, people avoiding dairy, as well as anyone gluten-free. We’re vegetarian, but not every one is. If you want to shift things toward a more traditional Niçoise salad, you can retain the fish component. We all have a friend who is passionate about tinned fish – have them bring a favorite to serve on the side.
ingredients for a Nicoise arranged on a counter including hard-boiled eggs, green beans, potatoes, olives, lettuces

Niçoise Salad Ingredients

  • Beans or lentils: For a vegetarian version (as pictured) replace the traditional fish component – tuna or anchovies – with beans or lentils. You see freshly shelled cranberry beans in the photos here (boiled until tender), but French lentils are another great option. Chickpeas or cannelloni beans also work well.
  • Potatoes: Small, waxy potatoes are ideal here.
  • Lettuces: Some camps embrace lettuces as a component here, others, not so much. I love to include pockets of perfect little gem lettuces. They’re great for scooping and wrapping other ingredients and lend a fresh bolt of green to the whole scene.
  • Tomatoes: Ripe, seasonal, fresh tomatoes are the goal here. If you include cherry tomatoes, halve them. Larger tomatoes? Slice into quarters.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: Eggs bring the protein to this salad along with any beans or lentils you might include. I include my favorite way to hard-boil eggs, no grey yolks, bright yellow yolks in the recipe below.
  • String Beans: Tender, green beans (or yellow beans) are a key component. Getting their texture right is the challenge. Build for a flash, until they relax a shade and brighten a bit. Then shock them in cold water.
  • Olives: Niçoise olives are the traditional choice, of course, but if you have other olive varietals on hand, do let that deter you from making Niçoise salad, or Niçoise-ish Salad.
  • Artichokes: If I know I’m going to make a Niçoise salad, I’ll cook a bit skillet of artichoke hearts the night prior. Eat some with dinner, and save some in the refrigerator for the Niçoise the next day. Here’s how to cook artichokes along with some tips because I love them so much. 
  • Vinaigrette: A strong vinaigrette is my preference here, and I include mine in the recipe below. Be sure to make it with good tasting vinegar.
  • Lemons: If you have a grill going, grilled halves of lemon are a nice addition.

ingredients for a Nicoise arranged on a kitchen island including hard-boiled eggs, green beans, potatoes, olives, lettuces
Salad: How To Make Ahead

One of the things to love about Niçoise salad is that many of the components can be made ahead.

  • Vinaigrette: Make the vinaigrette up to 4 days in advance.
  • Artichokes can be cooked a day or two ahead.
  • Potatoes, green beans, and hard-boiled eggs can be boiled a day ahead.
  • Lettuces can be washed and dried a day or two ahead of time.
  • Beans can been cooked from dried up to 2-3 days ahead.

Nicoise salad on a large serving platter
More Salad Recipes

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