Niçoise Salad 

Everyone can find ingredients to love In this vegetarian take on Niçoise Salad! Beans and artichokes take the place of tuna (or anchovies) here alongside tender potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, and green beans.

Niçoise Salad 

Let’s talk about Niçoise Salad. It’s an arrangement traditionally made with ingredients local to the Provencal city of Nice. Purists often argue that a proper salad Niçoise has a long list of hard nos. No lettuces, no boiled potatoes, green beans are out, avocados (lol), no vinaigrette, and on and on. The list is extensive and if you want a deeper dive into the history, read this. What is allowed? Olive oil-packed anchovies and raw tomatoes, and salt. Many versions have evolved from this including the one I make most.
Nicoise salad on a large serving platter

Nicoise Salad: The Inspiration

In recent years Niçoise salad has become a frequent “go-to” when we have friends or family over. This is because arranged on a platter it is a gorgeous, abundant, queen of a salad. More important, in this modern age, it can accommodate nearly everyone’s dietary preferences. This is no small feat here in Los Angeles and a huge win-win in my book. This version works for vegans and vegetarians, people avoiding dairy, as well as anyone gluten-free. We’re vegetarian, but not every one is. If you want to shift things toward a more traditional Niçoise salad, you can retain the fish component. We all have a friend who is passionate about tinned fish - have them bring a favorite to serve on the side.
ingredients for a Nicoise arranged on a counter including hard-boiled eggs, green beans, potatoes, olives, lettuces

Niçoise Salad Ingredients

  • Beans or lentils: For a vegetarian version (as pictured) replace the traditional fish component - tuna or anchovies - with beans or lentils. You see freshly shelled cranberry beans in the photos here (boiled until tender), but French lentils are another great option. Chickpeas or cannelloni beans also work well.
  • Potatoes: Small, waxy potatoes are ideal here.
  • Lettuces: Some camps embrace lettuces as a component here, others, not so much. I love to include pockets of perfect little gem lettuces. They’re great for scooping and wrapping other ingredients and lend a fresh bolt of green to the whole scene.
  • Tomatoes: Ripe, seasonal, fresh tomatoes are the goal here. If you include cherry tomatoes, halve them. Larger tomatoes? Slice into quarters.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: Eggs bring the protein to this salad along with any beans or lentils you might include. I include my favorite way to hard-boil eggs, no grey yolks, bright yellow yolks in the recipe below.
  • String Beans: Tender, green beans (or yellow beans) are a key component. Getting their texture right is the challenge. Build for a flash, until they relax a shade and brighten a bit. Then shock them in cold water.
  • Olives: Niçoise olives are the traditional choice, of course, but if you have other olive varietals on hand, do let that deter you from making Niçoise salad, or Niçoise-ish Salad.
  • Artichokes: If I know I’m going to make a Niçoise salad, I’ll cook a bit skillet of artichoke hearts the night prior. Eat some with dinner, and save some in the refrigerator for the Niçoise the next day. Here’s how to cook artichokes along with some tips because I love them so much. 
  • Vinaigrette: A strong vinaigrette is my preference here, and I include mine in the recipe below. Be sure to make it with good tasting vinegar.
  • Lemons: If you have a grill going, grilled halves of lemon are a nice addition.

ingredients for a Nicoise arranged on a kitchen island including hard-boiled eggs, green beans, potatoes, olives, lettuces
Niçoise
Salad: How To Make Ahead

One of the things to love about Niçoise salad is that many of the components can be made ahead.

  • Vinaigrette: Make the vinaigrette up to 4 days in advance.
  • Artichokes can be cooked a day or two ahead.
  • Potatoes, green beans, and hard-boiled eggs can be boiled a day ahead.
  • Lettuces can be washed and dried a day or two ahead of time.
  • Beans can been cooked from dried up to 2-3 days ahead.

Nicoise salad on a large serving platter
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Niçoise Salad

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I often have oil-cured Kalamata olives or Castelvetrano olives on hand, and tend to use those. Niçoise olives are the traditional choice. Also, you'll likely have extra dressing, it will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Ingredients
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 pound / 12 ounces green beans, topped
  • 1 pound / 16 ounces small new potatoes
Vinaigrette:
  • 1 medium garlic clove, grated
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup / 160 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • pepper, to taste
Raw ingredients:
  • 12 ounces / 3/4 pound ripe tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 - 2 heads of lettuce (little gems, arugula, radicchio)
  • 1/3 cups Niçoise olives
  • Other ideas: beans or lentils, cucumbers (sliced), scallions, radishes (quartered), basil, capers, shelled fava beans, artichokes, beets, grilled lemons
Instructions
Boil the eggs:
  1. Place eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover and allow eggs to sit for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water and allow to cool. Peel, cut eggs into halves, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and set aside.
Make the vinaigrette:
  1. Blanch the beans in a medium pan of salted, boiling water. Cook for a couple of minutes, until they are bright green, still crisp, and a bit tender. Strain the beans out with a spider, reserving the hot water. Rinse the green beans under cold water to stop cooking, pat dry with a clean kitchen towel, toss with a splash of the vinaigrette and set aside. Boil potatoes next in the same water until tender 5 - 8 minutes.
Finish preparing ingredients:
  1. Cut the tomatoes in half if you’re using cherry tomatoes, or into wedges if your tomatoes are larger.
  2. Season each component with salt if appropriate - tomatoes, green beans, potatoes.
Compose the salad:
  1. Place the lettuces in a layer on a large platter. Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette. Arrange the eggs, green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes and olives in separate groups, on top of the lettuces. Drizzle the potatoes with vinaigrette. Drizzle the whole platter with more vinaigrette if needed.
Notes

Serves 4-6.

Serves
5
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
 
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Comments

i have been dreaming about a vegetarian version of a nicoise–this is perfect timing: thank you!

Jenna

    Thanks Jenna! Enjoy!

    Heidi Swanson

Love the addition of beans and artichokes.
For an even more “sacrilegious” version, I sometime do a Niçoise-Greek salad hybrid, as feta goes great with all of these ingredients.

Laura V

    Oh! There’s an amazing sheep’s milk feta I buy that would be wonderful with the rest of these ingredients. Along with those green beans and potatoes. So much yes.

    Heidi Swanson

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