French Recipes: Salade Niçoise
Nothing says summer in France to me like a salade Niçoise. The beautifully constructed salad, featuring the best of the farmers’ market, is the ultimate in French recipes and immediately puts me seaside along the French Riviera, sipping rosé or a slightly chilled Beaujolais.
You’ll find many different versions and ingredients in this one-plate, all-inclusive meal. Julia Child would have you boiling potatoes to slice and throw in, while Jacques Médecin, the former mayor of Nice and a gourmand, would never dare include the starchy tuber in his salad because it needs to be cooked, and he believes that everything in the salad should be raw except for the hard-boiled eggs. Me, I’m from carb-conscious California, so I like to reserve my spud eating for when I can go all out on a rich, creamy French classic, pommes à la dauphinoise.
Most people can agree to a few staples for this salad: lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs and canned tuna. There is some dreadful canned tuna out there, but the best tends to be packed in olive oil and sustainably raised, like albacore. Many people also like to add anchovies, while others say you should choose between anchovies and tuna. I like the robust flavor when both are added, and I always add the classic Niçoise olives for a true taste of the south of France. So mix and match your favorite ingredients for a summer salad that you and your guests will adore.
1 medium shallot, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from approximately 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
optional: fresh herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, parsley
2 heads Boston or Bibb lettuce
1 pound green beans, French if possible
8 anchovies packed in olive oil
8 ounces canned albacore tuna in olive oil
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup black Niçoise olives
4 hard-boiled eggs, halved
1. Place minced shallot, lemon juice and Dijon mustard in a bowl and whisk.
2. Slowly add the olive oil to the mixture until combined.
3. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
5. Trim the ends of the green beans.
6. Add the beans to the boiling water and cook for approximately 3 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Drain the beans and place them in a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking and keep them crisp.
7. Arrange the washed greens in a large bowl and dress with the vinaigrette.
8. Place each additional ingredient on top and drizzle the remainder of the vinaigrette. Salt and pepper as needed.