Tuna Salad Niçoise is an easy, elegant and impressive entrée that’s perfect for a refreshing lunch or light dinner, especially in spring and summer months. There are numerous takes on this iconic dish from southern France; my version includes tips and tricks to enhance each element, without overpowering or making the dish rich. While bursting with diverse flavors, colors and textures, this Niçoise Salad recipe is elegant but not fussy – just like a Parisian woman.

Offwhite plate showing one portion of Tuna Salad Nicoise recipe, with ingredients surrounding the plate
(Photo by Rick Souders)

Foods can often evoke fond memories; they can also stimulate our imaginations. Like Tuna Salad Niçoise. When eating this vibrant salad, through its flavors you’re transported to Provence, in the south of France. You’re sitting in the shade of a large elm tree, in a bright, sunny garden, with a cool sea breeze kissing your face. That’s what this salad tastes like – bright, light, satisfying.

close up of one portion of Tuna Salad Nicoise, arranged on a plate
What’s in this Tuna Salad Niçoise?

The leading lady in this divine salad is a luscious mound of canned tuna; the co-stars are steamed new potatoes, crispy green beans, sunny hard boiled eggs, vibrant tomatoes, briny Niçoise olives and tangy capers. It’s stage is fresh, crisp lettuce leaves. Each component is lightly tossed with a bright Lemon-Tarragon dressing, layering in the flavors and ensuring an even distribution of the tangy vinaigrette throughout the dish.

The beauty of Salad Niçoise is you can make it your own. Radishes, artichokes, asparagus, green pepper – any or all would be delicious.

Single serving of tuna salad nicoise on an ivory plate

How to serve Tuna Salad Niçoise?

Traditionally, Salad Niçoise is presented on lettuce-lined individual plates, with tuna mounded in the middle and other ingredients artfully arranged around it. You can also compose it like a cobb salad – with the components in rows. Alternatively, serve it salad bar style!

Can Tuna Salad Niçoise be made ahead?

Yes – you can prep the components up to 2 days ahead (including the dressing, potatoes, green beans and hard boiled eggs), then tossed with the dressing just before serving.

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Other main dish salads to try:

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close up of one portion of Tuna Salad Nicoise, arranged on a plate

Tuna Salad Niçoise Recipe

  • Author: From “Fresh Tastes” by Lee Clayton Roper
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish salads
  • Method: steam
  • Cuisine: French
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Tuna Salad Niçoise is an easy, elegant and impressive entrée that’s perfect for a refreshing lunch or light dinner, especially in spring and summer months. There are numerous takes on this iconic dish from southern France; my version includes tips and tricks to enhance each element, without overpowering or making the dish rich. While bursting with diverse flavors, colors and textures, this Niçoise Salad recipe is elegant but not fussy – just like a Parisian woman.


Ingredients

Scale

Lemon-Tarragon Dressing

  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tarragon white wine vinegar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon lemon zest, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Salad Niçoise

  • 3 medium new potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 (5-ounce) cans good quality white tuna, drained
  • 6 cups torn salad greens such as Bibb, Boston or Butter lettuce
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups seeded, coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup Niçoise or Kalamata black olives, pitted and cut in half
  • 1/3 cup capers, drained

Instructions

Lemon-Tarragon Dressing

  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, zest, tarragon and nutmeg.
  2. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Salad Niçoise

  1. Place potatoes in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam potatoes 10 to 15 minutes until fork tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Place green beans in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam 8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove and plunge them into ice water to keep their bright green color. Drain again and pat dry with paper towel.
  3. In separate bowls for each ingredient, toss potatoes, green beans, tuna and greens each with 1 to 2 tablespoons dressing. Season each to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Assembly
    Spread greens evenly on 6 individual plates. Place a mound of the tuna in the middle. Surround with the potatoes, green beans, eggs, tomatoes, and olives. Sprinkle capers over the top. Pass additional dressing on the side.

Notes

Make ahead: Lemon-Tarragon Dressing, potatoes, green beans and hard boiled eggs can all be prepared, covered separately and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead.

Variation in presentation – cobb salad style: Arrange ingredients in rows on top of lettuce greens.

Variation in presentation – salad bar style: Put each ingredient in a separate bowl and arrange in the following order: mixed greens (in a large bowl), tuna, potatoes, green beans, eggs, tomatoes, olives, capers and remaining dressing.

Keywords: french, provencal, nicoise

Lee Clayton Roper

Welcome!

I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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Access more recipes in Lee's award-winning book, Fresh Tastes!

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