During the hot summer days, we try to spend the least time in the kitchen, and the meals have to be light and refreshing. In addition, when we use homegrown vegetables, we strive to make the most of them, showing off the harvest.
This salad Nicoise uses my harvest of potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, and onions. Unfortunately, lettuce does not grow during this time of year, so I had to get it from the store.
What is salad Nicoise?
Salad Nicoise originated in Nice, a town in France. Its original version included tomatoes, anchovies, and local olives. Served with french bread, it was the ultimate “poor man’s meal.”
In the 1920s, the salad became popular and circulated the world. Therefore, it underwent some modifications according to the seasons and the regions.
The version I am presenting in this post is similar to what my mom used to serve us growing up. I still remember the big platter centering the dinner table. It was one of my favorite summer meals as a child.
The ingredients you need to make this salade Nicoise
- Lettuce: Although the original version does not call for lettuce but having it adds a refreshing crunch to the salad. My favorite variety is romaine or buttercrunch since its leaf has more body and won’t wilt with the heat.
- Potatoes: Homegrown potatoes have a different taste than storebought ones. Since they have not traveled a long distance to get to your table, their starch did not breakdown into sugars yet.
- Green beans are among the easiest vegetables to grow, especially long-yard beans. They are also prolific producers. My son enjoys snacking on them right off the vine.
- Tomatoes: Once again, homegrown tomatoes have a superior taste. But unfortunately, they are hit and miss. One year you might get a bumper crop; another year might be a failure.
- Onions: I prefer green onions or shallots for salads. They are much milder and sweeter than regular onions. However, if that is the only one you have, you can soak it in some water and vinegar to reduce its intensity.
- Olives: are a Mediterranean staple. They are present almost in every meal. Sadly, we do not have fresh, tasty olives in the USA, but you can check your local ethnic stores for some imported ones. The color of the olives is a personal preference. Some people prefer the black olive; others prefer green or purple.
- Tuna: is a cheaper and lighter alternative to anchovies, which the original recipe uses. Some also use fresh tuna instead of canned.
- Eggs: were the our-go-to protein when we were little. If you can source actual free-range eggs, that would be best for this salad.
- Olive oil: is another precious ingredient I miss from the Mediterranean. So, use whatever brand you find tasty.
- Salt and pepper are the king and queen of seasoning.
Let’s make the salade Nicoise
The first step is to wash the potatoes. There is no need to peel them unless the skin is too thick. Try to choose small to medium size, since they are younger. They taste better in a salad and take less to cook.
Then parboil the green beans for a few minutes. Ensure that they keep their crunch as mushy beans are not so tasty, especially to the kids. And to keep their vibrant color, plunge them in icy water immediately before draining them.
To save time and water, plunge the eggs into the green beans. They do not need a long cooking time anyway. Unless you like perfectly hard-boiled, you may keep them in boiling water longer.
Clean the lettuce and spin dry it while the other ingredients are cooking.
Time to put the salad together
- Lay the lettuce as a base on a wide, shallow serving platter.
- Place the potatoes in the middle.
- Bunch the green beans on the perimeters, followed by the tomatoes.
- Add the tuna by sprinkling it over the vegetables or placing it in portions.
- Cut the eggs into halves or quarters and place them all over the top.
- Chop or slice the onions and scatter them over the salad.
- Generously drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
The other way of serving salade Nicoise is by tossing everything together in a big salad bowl. I love serving the composed way because that’s how my mom did it.
- 1 lb potatoes, cleaned and boiled
- 1 lb green beans, cut into one inch
- 1 lb tomatoes, cut into bite size
- 1 head of romaine lettuce
- 2 tuna cans
- 6 eggs
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup olives
- Clean the potatoes and place them in a pot filled with cold water. Then put them on the stove to boil until fork tender.
- In a separate water-filled pot, put the green beans and egg and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
- Wash the lettuce and cut it into the desired size, then lay it on a wide, shallow serving plate.
- Wash the tomatoes, cut them into quarters, and set them aside.
- Drain the beans and eggs and plunge them in cold water for three minutes before draining again.
- Drain the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Then place them on top of the lettuce bed, followed by the green beans and tomatoes.
- Open the tuna cans and drain the liquid. Then arrange it over the vegetables.
- Chop the onions, then scatter them over the salad.
- Cut the eggs into halves or quarters, and arrange them on the salad.
- Sprinkle the salad with olives, salt, and pepper.
- Drizzle olive oil all over the salad.
- Allow the potatoes to soak in the oil before serving.