Classic Nicoise Salad Recipe

Nicoise salad is a classic lunch option with a ton of health benefits. While it might be something you associate with an overpriced French restaurant, we're here to tell you, it's not hard or expensive to make at home!

We snagged this Nicoise salad recipe from recipe developer Maren Epstein, who creates healthy, gut-healing recipes and meal guidance through her blog, Eating Works. As a certified chef and nutritionist and colon hydrotherapist, Epstein is passionate about eating foods that make your body function at optimal levels. 

Of course, eating well does not have to be arduous or complicated. This Nicoise salad is a prime example. "My take on salad Nicoise was inspired by a combination of the spring harvest and the simplicity of fresh French cuisine. I know French food can be very labor-intensive and heavy but this classic salad is on the lighter side which I enjoy," says Epstein.

Gather the ingredients for Nicoise salad

First, lay out all the ingredients for your Nicoise salad. There is some prep work involved in assembling this salad beyond just tossing everything in a bowl but it's definitely worth the effort.

This recipe calls for 1 cup of fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise; 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, divided; 1 cup of water; 1 can of tuna packed in water, drained; 10 baby gem lettuce leaves; a 1/2 cup of Niçoise olives, sliced; 2 cups of green beans; a 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved; 1/4 cup of olive oil; 1/4 cup of lemon juice; and two hard-boiled eggs.

This Nicoise salad recipe aims to create the classic Nicoise so hard-boiled eggs are a must. Place the eggs into a small pot of salted water and bring to a boil for 12 minutes. Once done, run the eggs under cold water. Then carefully peel and quarter the eggs, then set them aside.

Microwave the potatoes for Nicoise salad

According to the instructions for this Nicoise salad recipe, the first step is to combine the potatoes, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and the water with a pinch of salt in a microwave safe dish. Cook the dish covered for six minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Strain the potatoes and set them aside.

"The potatoes don't have to be fingerling but I selected them for their size and beauty," notes Epstein. "I love how they photograph and look on the plate with all of their colors. You could also use other varieties of mini potatoes like yellow potatoes."

Mash the tuna with a fork and combine with vinegar, salt and pepper

Drain the canned tuna in a strainer then mash the tuna with a fork. Season it with 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together so the vinegar and seasoning are thoroughly incorporated into the tuna. 

Not a fan of canned tuna but like the idea of everything else in this recipe? We asked Epstein about what to do if you're in that predicament. She explains, "A Niçoise salad is classically made with tuna but tradition aside, any light seafood would work. For a vegan version, you can use cooked chickpeas"

Whisk the dressing for Nicoise salad

The last thing you'll need to do before assembling your Nicoise salad is to whip up the dressing, which is a super simple step, and a great, zesty accompaniment to the salad. Combine the 1/4 cup of olive oil and the 1/4 cup of lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk them together to form a vinaigrette. That's it! Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste if desired. 

Wait until just before eating to dress the Nicoise salad. If you're serving later, keep the dressing in an airtight container until ready to serve, then whisk one more time before pouring on the salad.

Arrange the Nicoise salad on a plate

The only step left is assembling the salad. All your ingredients should be ready to go. This Nicoise salad recipe yields two servings (or one if you're extremely hungry). Divide the lettuce evenly between two plates (or all together on a platter) and top with the potatoes, olives, green beans, tomatoes, eggs, and tuna. Drizzle with the vinaigrette dressing just before serving.

You can make this salad in advance and store it neatly assembled in an airtight container but we wouldn't recommend waiting longer than a day or so to eat it because well, you know, tuna. Nicoise salad is best when fresh!

Classic Nicoise Salad Recipe
5 from 41 ratings
French food doesn't always have to be super fancy. This classic Nicoise salad recipe comes together in mere minutes with a can of tuna and a simple vinegarette.
Prep Time
Cook Time
nicoise salad
Total time: 18 minutes
  • 1 cup fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can tuna packed in water, drained
  • 10 baby gem lettuce leaves
  • ½ cup Niçoise olives, sliced
  • 1 bag or 2 cups green beans
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled
  1. Combine potatoes, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and water with a pinch of salt into a microwave safe dish. Cook covered for 6 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Strain and set aside.
  2. Place the eggs into a small pot of salted water and bring to a boil for 12 minutes. Once done run them under cold water before peeling and quartering them.
  3. Mash the tuna with a fork and season with 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  4. Arrange the lettuce on a platter and top with the potatoes, olives, green beans, tomatoes, eggs, and tuna.
  5. Combine olive oil and lemon juice. Whisk together to form a vinaigrette. Lightly dress the salad and enjoy.
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