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

Tuna Salad Niçoise Recipe

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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.

  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free



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


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.


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.

  • Author: From "Fresh Tastes" by Lee Clayton Roper
  • Category: main dish salads
  • Method: steam
  • Cuisine: French