Compose Yourself

Salade Niçoise

Let's face it... when a person is falling in love, I mean the head over heals, butterflies in the tummy, foggy thinking, something crazy is going on here and don't let it stop kind of love, it is the easiest time and the worst time to loose your composure. Perhaps that is why I turned to this salad in the early days of my relationship to the man I'm about to marry. It was an effort to impress, yes, but I also needed to lean on all the composure I could muster.

Salade Niçoise is one of the worlds better-known composed salads (a salade composée.) A specialty of the Côte d’Azur region of France where fish is abundant, this salad is named for Nice, the city from which it originated. For our salad, I took a non-traditional approach and had My Baby grill fresh tuna rather than use the usual canned variety. Like so many regional dishes, I understand that there are many variations on the theme but one thing stands as true: The vegetables must be cooked, not raw. In France, there may be as many "very best" Salade Niçoises as there are mamans, as each cook has her own approach.

So together we shared a delicious Niçoise Salad, as we are apt to call it here in the States, on a warm summers night on my balcony deck with a bottle of French something-or-another (like I said, my head was a little foggy and that was before the wine), a loaf of crusty bread, and learned a little more about one another.

Salade Niçoise

French Vinaigrette
1 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 Tablespoon each finely chopped fresh basil, tarragon and oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Shake all ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Set aside.

1/2 pound small red potatoes, halved
3 Tablespoons dry vermouth
1 Tablespoon minced shallot
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pound haricot verts (green beans)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/3 pound good tuna
3 Tablespoons tiny capers
1/2 cup Niçoise olives
1 2 oz. tin flat anchovies
4 hard boiled eggs, halved
4 ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Stem potatoes until tender, about 15-20 minutes depending on their size. While still hot, drizzle with vermouth, then sprinkle with shallot, oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Blanch the green beans in boiling salted water for 3-5 minutes, just until tender. Drain, refresh in cold water, then drain again. Toss with the tarragon and a bit of the reserved vinaigrette. Set aside.

Grill tuna briefly over very hot coals or an a hot grill pan just until seared on both sides. Set aside.

Toss the tomatoes with the basil and a bit of the reserved vinaigrette.

Arrange potatoes, green beans, eggs, tomatoes and tuna on a large platter. Adorn the egg halves with anchovy fillets. Sprinkle capers and olives atop of it all. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the entire salad and serve immediately.

Sit back and watch love grown.

Photo credit: Scott Spettel


  1. Well, I can see why things worked out with your man. Salade nicoise is one of my favorites and this version looks particularly delicious!

  2. Your nicoise salad is gorgeous--you prepared it just the way I would like it. Even better that you used grilled tuna rather than canned.

    Congrats, too, on your upcoming nuptials.


  3. Beautiful Salade Nicoise, an interesting recipe with the vermouth on the potatoes and of course the fresh tuua is perfect!

  4. this looks scrumptious! your blog is beautiful btw. simple, clean and great pics.

  5. Beautiful plate.

  6. What a great looking salad! It is definitely a fool proof way to impress someone you care about. Congrats on your upcoming wedding!

  7. That is a pretty impressive plate of salad!

  8. Beautiful traditional French salad. I would have been impressed too!

  9. Nicoise is a classic. The flavors are combined perfectly, and it makes for a beautiful and impressive presentation. Just right for wooing someone special. ;)

  10. Oh wow. This looks and sounds beautiful, seriously. No wonder the two of you are getting married soon... ;) Congratulations!

    Jax x

  11. There are few things that I feel I could eat every single day and be completely satisfied... Salad Nicoise is one of them.

    This with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc... makes me a happy man just thinking about it.

  12. Nicoise salad is a great dish to impress that special someone. :) Your versions looks delicious.

  13. Very nicely done. For me the salad isn't quite my style, but the story is special. When's the wedding?


  14. Jason, our wedding will be on the auspicious date 10/10/10. And yes, as long as we're going that far, we'll go ahead and make it 10 a.m. at the lovely King Estate Winery here in Oregon. I believe you sampled their Pinot Gris?? Him, me, and 40 or so family members (we've got 7 kids, 3 of their spouses and one granddaughter between us) and through-thick-and-through-thin friends.

  15. This is the second Salade Nicoise I've saved in the last week. I adore the dish, fell in love when I lived in Grenoble (many years ago). This version is artfully displayed and now I want some even though it's breakfast time!

  16. This looks absolutely lovely :) It looks very rustic.

  17. Fantastic looking salad! Congratulations on the upcoming wedding:)

  18. Congrats on your special time, special man, special day to come! I think so many of us understand the 'cook to impress'... sharing is one of the best parts of cooking!

  19. If this didn't get him he has no taste buds. Fabulous!

  20. Your salad looks beautiful! It's one of my favorites. I love the vermouth/potato idea.


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