Tuna Salad Nicoise is a classic French salad, composed rather than tossed, and featuring fresh vegetables, salty black olives, hard-boiled eggs, and tuna. It’s deliciously make-ahead and packed with protein and fresh ingredients. You’re going to want this salade nicoise on repeat throughout the spring and summer.
Want to save this post?
Enter your email below and get it sent straight to your inbox. Plus, I’ll send you budget recipes and money-saving tips every week!
If you travel to France, chances are you will have the opportunity to eat in a restaurant or cafe. I hope so! Some of the best meals I ever ate were during my year abroad in France.
After a few French menu readings, you’ll see a theme. Often the same recipes appear throughout the country, perhaps with a few local tweaks. The French have their every day classics just as we do. Ours may be the patty melt, meatloaf, mac and cheese, or spaghetti and meatballs.
And the French summer salad, the Tuna Salad Nicoise, a composed salad that’s packed with flavor.
What is Nicoise?
A little background for you, a dish prepared a la Nicoise, or in the Nicoise style, means it’s made the way they do it in the city of Nice. Typically, these dishes include tomatoes, black olives, garlic, and anchovies.
A traditional salade nicoise has these elements as well as green beans, onions, tuna, hard cooked egg, and fresh herbs.
I’ve done my best to recreate the iconic salad of French cuisine here in a way that suits the American palate — and grocery bill. The garlic is the seasoning to the green beans. I use frozen green beans because they’re easy to find all year-round. The herbs are mixed in the dressing. The olives are Kalamata instead of true Nicoise because they are easier to find here.
I left out the anchovy because it is fairly foreign to most Americans and can be expensive.
I’ve also taken the liberty of adding cooked red potato because that’s how I was served it in France one day years ago when I dined out with my friend Lucile. She told me that some put rice in the salad instead of potato and that it’s a small bone of contention.
This salad is easy to make, delicious to eat, and packed with hearty protein and fresh ingredients, making it a classic salad to enjoy throughout the spring and summer.
Get Meal Plan 6
This recipe is featured in Good Cheap Eats Meal Plan 6. Get the free 3-day meal plan, all the budget-friendly recipes, tips for what to do with leftovers, and the customizable printable grocery list.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious Nicoise salad recipe:
baby potatoes – Cooked, small red potatoes or new potatoes of any variety are perfect for this salade nicoise. You can use larger potatoes, just cut them into rounds after cooking. Instant Pot Potatoes are perfect for this!
olive oil – Olive oil or sunflower oil are typical in France. You need just a bit for sauteeing the green beans and for the salad dressing.
green beans – I use frozen French green beans because these are cheap and easy to find. If you’ve got fresh green beans on hand, by all means, use them.
garlic – fresh garlic is a great seasoning for the green beans.
salad greens – You’ll want to compose your salad on a bed of lettuce. I like to use mixed salad greens but you can also use head lettuce or baby spinach.
salad dressing – It’s easy enough to make a Dijon vinaigrette for your salad nicoise. You just need Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, red wine vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil. If you don’t like the mustard flavor, this tasty lemon vinaigrette is a nice substitute.
canned tuna – I like to use canned, water-packed albacore tuna, but my French mama would probably suggest an oil-packed tuna filet instead. Want to include more fish in your diet? Be sure to try our 20+ Easy Fish Recipes.
fresh tomatoes – Use chopped and seeded tomatoes or for a pretty presentation, try cherry tomatoes, cut in halves.
briny olives – Nicoise olives are briny black olives that are hard to find in the states. Kalamata olives are a reasonable substitute.
red onion – Thin slices of red onion add a nice bite and bit of color to your salad plate.
Here’s how to make this easy Tuna Salad Nicoise:
- Heat the oil in a skillet until shimmering. Add the green beans and season them with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, tossing, until the beans are crisp tender.
- In a large bowl, toss together the greens and enough of the dressing to coat. Divide this among four dinner plates.
- Slice the potatoes. Compose the other salad ingredients atop the greens, dividing them equally between the plates: sliced potatoes, green beans, tuna, tomatoes, two egg pieces, olives, and sliced red onion. Serve the salads with additional dressing on the side.
- Alternatively, you can assemble the entire Nicoise salad recipe on a large platter and serve from that.
To make as a meal prep: assemble the salad without the dressing. Store the dressing in a covered cup, separate from the salad, and add to the salad right before serving.
More French Recipes You Should Try
Tuna Salade Nicoise Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cup green beans
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (or fresh chopped garlic if you prefer)
- salt and pepper
- 1 6-ounce package baby greens
- 1 batch Dijon vinaigrette
- 1 lb small potatoes cooked and cooled
- 1 14-ounce can albacore tuna drained
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes or large tomatoes, chopped
- 4 eggs (hard-cooked) peeled and halved
- ½ cup Kalamata olives or other black olives
- 1 red onion sliced
- Heat the oil in a skillet until shimmering. Add the green beans and season them with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, tossing, until the beans are tender.1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 cup green beans, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- In a large salad bowl, toss together the greens and enough of the dressing to coat. Divide this among four dinner plates.1 6-ounce package baby greens, 1 batch Dijon vinaigrette
- Slice the potatoes. Compose the other salad ingredients atop the greens, dividing them equally between the plates: sliced potatoes, green beans, tuna, tomatoes, two egg pieces, olives, and sliced red onion. Serve the salads with additional dressing on the side.1 lb small potatoes, 1 14-ounce can albacore tuna, 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, 4 eggs (hard-cooked), ½ cup Kalamata olives, 1 red onion
This post was originally published on August 18, 2015. It has been updated for content and clarity.