I’ve never met a Niçoise salad that I didn’t like, and it seems that I am in good company. Julia Child once wrote, “Niçoise is my all-time favorite, with its fresh butter-lettuce foundation; its carefully cooked, beautiful green green beans; its colorful contrast of halved hard-boiled eggs, ripe red tomatoes, and black olives; all fortified by chunks of tunafish and freshly opened anchovies."
I’ve reprinted Julia’s basic version, but in theory you can use anything that you happen to like or have on hand. There is also a very good Salmon Nicoise Salad from Martha Stewart and former supermodel Paulina Porizkova on the Martha Stewart website.
1 large head Boston-lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1 pound green beans, cooked and refreshed
1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/3 cup basic vinaigrette
(my recipe below)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 or 4 new potatoes potatoes, peeled, sliced, and cooked
Two 3-ounce cans high quality chunk tuna, preferably oil-packed
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1 freshly opened can of flat anchovy fillets
1/3 cup small black Niçoise-type olives
2 to 3 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter or in a shallow bowl. Shortly before serving, toss the beans with the shallots, tomatoes, spoonfuls of vinaigrette and salt and pepper. Place the potatoes in the center of the platter and arrange a mound of beans and tuna. Add halves of hard-boiled eggs, sunny side up, and curl an anchovy on top of each egg. Spoon more vinaigrette over salad. Scatter on olives, capers, and parsley, and serve.
1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon hot water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Whisk together mustard, shallot, sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar and 1 teaspoon hot water in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.