Foundations of a Niçoise Salad
In its very simplest 19th century iteration, this composed salad from the seaside city of Nice, France, featured just tomatoes, anchovies, and olive oil. In a world where adding a dash of capers to a dish can rock the very foundations of culinary identity, the niçoise has since evolved into a flexible format.
Variations appear in just a range of reputable sources, from the Larousse to Escoffier to former mayors of Nice—some include tuna, some don’t; some say it’s a summer salad that shouldn’t see even a second of cooking time; some say, well, anything goes. At its core, the niçoise salad is meant to be your perfect salad, so build the flavor profile instinctively from those original few must-haves: tomato, anchovy, and olive oil.
Classic Niçoise Salad Recipe
Because a classic niçoise is a composed salad with no cooked ingredients, making one couldn’t be easier. Just stick to seasonal produce at the height of its game, whip up a quick vinaigrette, and make it all look good on the plate. Favas look good at the market? Add ‘em. Ramps in season? You bet they belong here.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 handful green beans, ideally haricots verts (if you’d like, blanch the haricots verts in boiling water, drain, and shock them in ice water for extra snap)
- ¼ cup olives, pitted (kalamata olives, black olives, or niçoise olives)
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1 small heirloom tomato, large-diced or quartered)
- ½ cup red potatoes or new potatoes, boiled, cooled, and halved if large
- 3-4 anchovy fillets
- 1 hard-boiled egg, halved or quartered
- Finely chopped red onion or shallots (let them sit in a tablespoon or two of fresh lemon juice for a light pickle before adding)
- Tuna, whether in the form of grilled fresh tuna steaks or cured in olive oil
- Asparagus, blanched
- Romaine lettuce
- Loose herbs, like fresh basil leaves or fresh thyme
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
- Arrange the salad components in snug, separate piles on the plate, or mix together and toss with as much vinaigrette as you’d like.
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