The portion you see here is only half of what I’ve just devoured. I should be embarrassed to admit this but oddly enough, I’m not. I should also be embarrassed when a server at a restaurant sets the heftier plate of food in front of my husband and the daintier one in front of me when it should be the other way around. But I’m not. When it comes to food, all shyness goes out the window. Fortunately, this is a salad and a healthy one at that, so I won’t feel bad that I’ve just shared with you how I’ve earned the nickname Petunia Pig (of Looney Tunes fame and I mean no offense to the porcine cutie).
This salad–despite my minor substitutions below–stays true to the original version. Packed with tuna, green beans, eggs, capers, anchovies, onions, tomatoes and olives, it has so much of the foods I enjoy that I would like to believe it was invented for me. However, I might annoy the good citizens of Nice, France for toying with this idea. No need to mess with this or a good recipe, I say.
Frankly, the hardest part when digging into this salad is deciding what flavor elements should go on my fork and into my mouth. I like contrasting flavors so one bite might consist of some egg, olive, onion (with lettuce)–creamy, salty, sharp. Another favorite combination would be a bite of tomato and anchovy–sweet/tart against salty/savory (I’m weird, I know, but this is how I enjoy my food). The green beans in their blanched plainness have a crisp, slightly sweet, palate-cleansing effect. Lastly, the hearty potato goes solo, simply coated by the dijon vinaigrette that brings all these flavors together.
What’s nice about this is that I usually have most of the ingredients available. If one or two items should not be around, the balance still makes a good salad. Usually, it’s the potato that is absent from my pantry. We’re rice and pasta lovers in my home so I rarely have spuds in stock. My husband just came back from a camping trip with “the boys” and he returned home with a load of food, including a huge bag of potatoes. These were actually last night’s roasted leftovers, making tonight’s dinner that much easier (and quicker) to prepare.
Feel free to add or remove ingredients. I understand some versions of Salade Niçoise omit the lettuce completely while others contain artichokes. As I always say, make this dish your own.
Tuna Niçoise Salad
For the Salad (You decide what amounts to use)
- Canned Tuna (I like to use tuna in olive oil)
- Green beans or the French variety, Haricots Verts (I think tradition dictates eating them raw but I like to blanch mine for 1 – 2 minutes)
- Olives (I didn’t have Niçoise olives so I used Kalamata)
- Potatoes, boiled or roasted
- Mixed greens
- Red Onion, thinly sliced
- Egg, hard-boiled and sliced in quarters
- Anchovy fillets
For the Vinaigrette (I didn’t measure amounts so I’ll approximate here)
- 1 – 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 – 2 cloves pressed or grated fresh garlic
- Juice of half a lemon (I also added a little red wine vinegar for additional tartness because my Meyer lemons are so sweet)
- Olive Oil, about half a cup
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
To prepare the vinaigrette, mix all the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl. Taste for enough salt or tartness and adjust accordingly. Slowly add enough olive oil into the mix, whisking until emulsified.
You can arrange all the salad components on a platter and drizzle with vinaigrette. I like to toss everything in a large bowl to get an even coating of the vinaigrette and serve immediately. Enjoy.