Classic Salade Nicoise

Authenticity is a broad subject that probably many people agree that we’ll never agree on, since food changes and evolves, as time goes by, and as people cross borders, using what they can get where they live. But I sometimes have an amusing image in my head that the people who are scouring the internet, pointing out inauthentic recipes, are sitting in cafes, eating chicken Caesar Salads. (The true Caesar Salad doesn’t have chicken on it. Or tomatoes, shrimp, corn, or tortilla chips, which I’ve seen.)

I didn’t know a lot about Salade Niçoise, the true version, until I came to France. But even so, your chances of finding a vrai (true) Salade Niçoise are almost nil. I’ve seen versions that have everything from rice to Parmesan on them, and some even have cooked green beans and potatoes.

What? You are probably saying to yourself. Potatoes and green beans are supposed to be on a Salade Niçoise – right? Well, not really. A true Niçoise Salad only has raw vegetables. It can have anchovies or canned tuna, but never both, and neither is required. (Grilled tuna is another no-no.) The only thing cooked on the salad are hard-boiled eggs.

Before you click away in shame or disbelief, it’s fine if you want to use all those things on your salad. I’m okay with defunding the authenticity police. But if you want to make a true Salade Niçoise, that’s what’s happening here.

The two proponents of the authentic Salade Niçoise that I look to guidance for are Jacques Médecin, in his book Cuisine Niçoise, and The Cuisine of the Sun by Mireille Johnston. Jacques Médecin was the former mayor of Nice who was a fierce proponent of authentic Niçoise cooking, said in his final words before his recipe for (Genuine) Salade Niçoise; “…never, ever, I beg you, include boiled potato or any other kind of boiled vegetable in your salade niçoise.”

Mireille was a bit more gentle, advising readers to “Use the freshest raw vegetables, never frozen or canned.” (In case anyone might be inclined to steam a fresh vegetable, she italicized raw.)

Another difference is the dressing. Jacques says to rub the salad bowl with a clove of garlic and just dress the salad with olive oil and fresh basil, saying vinegar and vinaigrette doesn’t belong on the salad, Mireille sauces hers with a vinagrette made with basil and garlic, and yes…vinegar.

Lest I (or they) scare you away from making Salade Niçoise, the great news is that it’s actually quite easy, and a lot of the work can be done in advance. You can even make the whole salad in advance and keep it in the refrigerator. (Jacques actually tells you to do that before serving to get it well-chilled.) If you don’t like anchovies, one piece of advice I can give you is to try very good anchovies.

The best I’ve had are Callol Serrats, which are beautiful strips, caught and packed in Catalonia that aren’t fishy or mushy, but pretty perfect. (Beaune Imports exports them to the U.S. The price reflects that they are shipped under optimal conditions and even Chez Panisse uses them.) The upside to them also is they are packed in oil so there’s no messy cleaning. But find a good anchovy, if you use them, avoiding those that come in those rectangular tins, which are usually not-so-great.

For the anti-anchovy folks, you can open a can of tuna and use that, adding the flakes or pieces to the salad. According to Jacques Médecin, people in Nice used anchovies (which they put up themselves at home) if they couldn’t afford to buy tinned tuna.

I don’t love bell peppers so keep them off my Salade Niçoise and while both authors agree on cucumbers, Mireille is a fan of thinly sliced fennel. I made a few other observations before the recipe but the main thing when you’re cooking and eating is to enjoy yourself. If you want to add whatever, you can. Just don’t tell Jacques, or Mireille.

Salade Niçoise
Print Recipe
6 servings
Inspired by Niçoise Cuisine: Recipes from a Mediterranean Kitchen by Jacques Medecin and The Cuisine of the Sun by Mireille Johnston I mentioned a lot of variations and suggestions in the post, so you have some latitude. I didn't include a cucumber in my salad that I made for the photos in this post as no one had any at the market, but I included them in the recipe. Most of the ingredients are easy to get (unless you go shopping the one day no one has cucumbers at the market!) but the fava beans may prove a challenge. They are usually in season in the spring and purchased in the pod. The beans will need to be removed from the pods and the individual beans have a leathery skin that needs to be pulled off, unless they are quite young, in which case the skin is sometimes soft enough to eat. With all due respect to Ms. Johnston, Picard in France sells frozen fava beans that are pretty good. (Avoid the already peeled ones, which I find mushy.) In the U.S., while inauthentic, some use edamame beans. Otherwise you can use small, raw artichokes, sliced as thinly as possible, preferably on a mandoline, or skip the beans or artichokes, if unavailable. The classic Niçoise Salad includes peppers, but neither one of us are fans of raw peppers so I omitted them. If you use unpitted olives, especially tiny Niçoise olives, advise guests to watch out for pits. And at the risk of adding too many rules, if you go with oil-cured olives, the ones from Nyons, produced about an hour from Nice, are quite good : )
For the Salad
5-6 medium tomatoes, sliced and gently salted
1 small head of lettuce, preferably a soft lettuce, such as Bibb or Boston
12 radishes, sliced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced
3/4 cup (110g) peeled fava beans, or 8-10 very small artichokes, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1/2 cup (70g) black olives, Niçoise or oil-cured, pitted or unpitted
4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered (see note after recipe)
5-6 anchovy filets, cut into thin strips lengthwise, or a 6 ounce (180g) tin of tuna
4 spring onions or 6 scallions, trimmed to just use the white and light green parts, thinly sliced, or 1/2 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper
For the vinaigrette
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (125ml) extra-virgin olive oil
10-12 leaves fresh basil
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle a little salt over the tomato slices and let stand 10 minutes.
2. Wash and dry the salad. Place the leaves in a salad bowl or on a serving platter. (You can either place the ingredients in individual piles over the lettuce to make a "composed salad" or do as I do here, and just arrange everything over the lettuce.)
3. Arrange the radishes, cucumber slices, fava beans (or artichokes), olives, quartered hard-cooked eggs, and tomatoes over the lettuce. (Drain away any liquid the tomatoes may have exuded.) Place the anchovy strips over the eggs. If using tuna, scatter big pieces or flakes over the salad.
4. Make the vinaigrette by stirring the vinegar and salt together in a small bowl until the salt is dissolved. Stir in the olive oil, then the garlic and basil and add them. Taste and adjust for salt and to make sure the balance of vinegar and olive oil is right.
5. Serve the salad. You can either dress the salad before serving (some people gently toss the ingredients together, before serving), or serve the salad undressed and let guests add their own dressing. If you dress the salad beforehand, add some freshly ground pepper when you do. If not, have a peppermill handy for guests to use.

To make hard-cooked eggs: Start with room temperature large eggs. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and gently lower the eggs in with a spoon. Simmer at a very low boil for 9 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and plunk them into a bowl of ice water, cracking the shells a bit after a few minutes, which aids in peeling.

Related Recipes and Links

How to Prepare Fava Beans (Fine Cooking)

Socca

The Best Socca in Nice

Cucumber-Feta Salad

Panisses

French Tomato Tart

8 Tips for Choosing Olive Oil

Niçoise Salad (Simply Recipes)

Aïoli

Confit of Tomatoes

French Tart Dough

Salade Niçoise (Nicerendezvous, in French)

Creamy Feta-Red Wine Vinegar Dressing

How to Find Foods and Other Items Mentioned on the Site

French Purists Rise Up in Defense of Niçoise Salad (Times of Malta)

Classic Salade Nicoise

86 comments

  • July 24, 2010 5:18am

    “But I did buy the unpeeled fava beans, instead of the ones already peeled and ready-to-go, which I shucked with my little hands. So I did my penance.”

    Well good on you, brother. I’m impressed. I totally would have gone for the peeled ones, but I see what you mean about keeping everything in a Niçoise Salad Karmic Balance.

    Your salad turned out beautifully. :)

    I love Salade Niçoise because I know it is the one thing I can get in a restaurant that is pretty much guaranteed allergen-free for me. Plus I can easily pick off anything that does not agree with me (like the peppers — I can only handle so many of those, too). I’m also totally with you on the anchovies. I always just thought I was *supposed* to dislike them as it seemed to be commonly accepted that no one does, until I actually had some on a Niçoise Salad, and I found out I love them. Maybe it is just the stores I shop at here in Paris, but I can’t seem to find them (yeah, I’m kind of a short bus kid when it comes to this stuff). Any tips on where to buy the ones packed in salt and oil? Is this something that the dreaded Monoprix carries in, say, the tuna aisle?

    Thank you so much for posting this.

  • July 24, 2010 5:22am

    Great to have finally met you at the book signing last week, David! Here is the link for the sushi restaurant I used to work at in Boston: http://oyarestaurantboston.com/
    Hope you make it up there when you go to NYC.

    And if you need a dining companion, don’t be a stranger :)

  • July 24, 2010 7:02am

    That looks delicious, especially from the middle of a chilly, damp winter. Recently I needed anchovies for a recipe and found the only jar in the pantry had the delectable little darlings wrapped around capers – very scrummy!

  • July 24, 2010 7:16am

    Your photos are beautiful David. It brings me back to me and my hubby’s honeymoon in Paris and Provence last year. Wish I was there!

  • charlotte
    July 24, 2010 8:11am

    Thank you for this recipe. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t like a good, fresh salad niçoise. Steamed haricots verts are a great addition, though I am not sure of the authenticity in relation to the salad…

  • July 24, 2010 8:15am

    Why do we have to stop having fun with our food just because someone else ‘says so’? Phooey. Ice cream without cream is simply the same as calling all facial tissues ‘Kleenex’ – everyone knows what you mean! So, there :)

    At any rate, I think this looks fabulous (even though I am tres partial to new potatoes in mine) and I am an anchovy lover. They add such depth to things and as I found I am an umami seeker, they fill that bill quite nicely.

  • Anita
    July 24, 2010 8:28am

    Hi David, great post! Do you know where can I find soybeans in Paris?? I have looked in my local Picard for the shelled version but no luck and I never see them whole at the market. Any ideas?

  • Marlene
    July 24, 2010 10:02am

    yeah! yeah! yeah! I’ve heard about the authentic version from the former (late) Mayor of Nice for decades. Normalement, I have great respect for authenticity, but…

    Back when I was working in Paris some years ago, (this happened on Bastille Day —guess a revolution in Salade Nicoise was brewing that day…) Working on drawings in my hotel room I completely forget to eat…it was late afternoon when I finally called for room service and ordered Salade Nicoise. When it arrived I was surprised to discovered warm potatoes and green beans, both warm and dressed in vinaigrette on an otherwise cold salad.

    I knew this was sacrilegious, but I was hungry!

    Fabulous…turned out I loved the contrast of the warm with cold flavors.

    Since then, this is the way I always prepare it and serve it!

    P.S. I love anchovies, bell peppers, AND licorice. I also make lavish use of cumin (even though it smells like the worst underarm problem in the world) for my chili!
    Tant pis, we all have our idiosyncrasies, don’t we?

  • July 24, 2010 10:08am

    I hope to have the real thing very soon. In the meantime, I’m hittin’ PRINT and making this at home. I love love love this salad.

  • July 24, 2010 10:44am

    Wow, after reading this post, I making something as simple as a salad a dreadful task! I suppose making any old salad is quick and easy, but the restrictions surrounding a salad Niçoise seem very stringent. On second though, salads are supposed to be fresh and non-cooked, so the restrictions seem to follow the notions of a salad, leaving only the anchovy/tuna rule in play.

    I would suspect that a great olive oil is nescessary for the salad Niçoise to be successful since there aren’t many other striking flavors in the salad, such as a cheese.

  • James in Seattle
    July 24, 2010 10:47am

    So David, if one simply insists on including boiled potato (and I do) in what I had formerly called Salad Niçoise — what do I call it? Not to mention the blanched haricot vert…

  • July 24, 2010 11:03am

    So glad to hear potatoes aren’t required; I never add them anyway. Like Karin, I often order Salade Niçoise in restaurants because it’s an easy way to avoid the wheat, excess starches, and sugary dressings. Green peppers don’t agree with me, either (or my husband, so those are left out, too). I might use cukes, but I might also use small lacto-fermented pickles I usually have in my fridge, as they add a nice salty flavor and healthy probiotic bacteria.

    At home, I keep a stock of Wild Planet’s sustainably line-caught canned skip jack tuna (a smaller tuna variety with lower mercury levels than albacore and packed in its own juices, not water or oil – I get it by the case from Amazon.com).

    When the summer CSA produce is abundant and needs using up and/or I need something easy, cool, and fast to feed the family or an unexpected guest, Salade Niçoise is just the ticket.

  • July 24, 2010 11:36am

    To add to the cream – ice cream debate.

    How about the Indian ice creams that don’t use cream but reduce the milk till it thickens and use that as base for ice creams. When I was a kid that is how I made chocolate ice cream. Kulfis are another example. Love to hear your thoughts on that.

  • Michele
    July 24, 2010 11:49am

    David: not sure whether you’ve seen this, or if you were contacted before they filmed it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2vpvEDS00o&feature=player_embedded

  • July 24, 2010 12:14pm

    James: I think it’s like the Chicken Caesar Salad debate. A Caesar Salad, by definition, doesn’t have chicken on it, so it’s a new hybrid. Maybe we should start calling them Caesar Salads with Chicken?

    Earl: It’s actually quite simple, especially if there’s nothing to cook. It’s just that often people request and want precise instructions on exact quantities (I’ve had people ask what “a medium banana weighs”, and an ex-editor of mine thinks that I shouldn’t specify things like “a half bunch of chives on the site, but to be more precise), but you can certainly just toss any of the ingredients together in whatever proportion, drizzle them with olive oil, salt & pepper, and eat away!

    Michele: No, but I think it’s neat they liked my site enough to use it in their demo : )

    Anita: I would imagine places like Tang Frères or some of the other Asian superstores in that area might have them.

    • The Masked Poster
      September 14, 2020 1:44am

      And, for a REAL Caesar salad, head for Caesar’s Restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, home of the original Caesar salad. Great service, modest prices, and some very good food. TJ is no longer the slimy border town of the past, catering to those seeking the pleasures of the flesh and/or drugs; instead, it has blossomed into a food mecca, and Caesar’s is just one of many.

      • Tamara
        September 17, 2020 12:01pm

        I love this comment! I’m orginally from Tijuana and now live in France, we visited Caesar’s last year with my French husband and the food was delicious.

  • lee
    July 24, 2010 12:21pm

    Thank you for this post answering my question! Every time you mentioned this salad, I became more curious.

    I was fortunate enough never to have any anchovies until I was an adult and a restaurant put some quite nice ones on a salad. My children love them too. I think they will love this salad. I read other recipes and the potatoes and green beans put me off, so it is pleasant to find they are not required.

  • sylvia
    July 24, 2010 12:30pm

    Nice recipe.I can only agree with you for the anchovies from Collioure, the best, because I am from there, on my mother’s side.
    It is a salad, so no potatoes, or green beans, or rice and tuna as served sometimes in some places.
    Thanks for the tip on fava beans we can find chez Picard.
    I can bring you anchovies when I come back in september.

  • July 24, 2010 12:34pm

    The empty bowl says it all!

  • Carol H.
    July 24, 2010 1:07pm

    Years ago I made my first Salade Niçoise from Julia Child’s book From Julia’s Kitchen, and I was smitten. It wasn’t until much later, when I was researching Salade Niçoise for a class I was planning on composed salads, that I found out that so many of my favs–potatoes, green beans, anchovies + tuna–were controversial. Yours looks great, the photos are fabulous, but it is Julia’s that I long for when the first beans come to my local farmers’ market. With garlicky new potatoes in the center, topped with the best canned tuna I can find, surrounded with clusters of dressed green beans, quartered jewel-like tomatoes, boiled eggs, anchovies topped with Niçoise olives, it is a kalidescope of colors and flavors.

  • July 24, 2010 1:36pm

    I often war internally between ABSOLUTE AUTHENTICITY!!! and the variations on a theme. More often than not, the variations rule, as I realize at the last minute that I’m missing an ingredient…

    I’m very impressed by the frozen fava beans – I would have never guessed that those beauties weren’t fresh.

    I have a question for you about the anchovies: how long will a jar last (provided that they aren’t all eaten) in the fridge, once opened? I adore anchovies, but my husband isn’t a big fan, so I don’t use them as often as I’d like. I can’t bring myself to spring for the expensive jars unless I know I won’t end up throwing them out.

    The alternative, I suppose, would be to just cook with them and tell my husband to suck it up or make his own dinner, which I do from time to time anyway :)

  • Mrs Redboots
    July 24, 2010 2:07pm

    Erm, why do you take the skins off of broad beans? They’re supposed to be eaten skin-on!!!! Only exception is if you have grown your own and they’ve got a bit elderly and tough. Otherwise, just microwave them out of the packet and eat them tel quel. You’re missing the best bit.

  • Sue
    July 24, 2010 2:56pm

    David- this looks wonderful!!! I’ve not yet made one of your non dessert recipes. I look forward to it. I am slowly working my way through the perfect scoop- making your chocolate mint ice cream with the homemade peppermint patties right now. I love the book…my only question is….any designs on making a peanut butter sauce recipe??? That was the only thing I thought would have made the tome absolutely perfect. Seems like the perfect blog post to me!!

  • July 24, 2010 5:33pm

    hi there
    when one starts bringing in the word “authenticity” in cooking , things get seriously shifty. Medecin’s book is a good book. It is also famous because HE was famous and controversial. The book then got translated into English and praised by many top food writers. So it became even more famous, at least in English speaking countries Too famous? Must he be considered the ultimate judge in nicoise cooking? I could say, for instance, that there is another classic book about Nicoise food, J.B.Reboul’s La Cuisiniere Provencale, that, doesn’t even mention the salad.
    I mean: cookery books are very personal, they try to fix into words something that is very fluid and ever changing. Even recipes by someone as obsessive and precise as Paula Wolfert must be regarded, ultimately, as “her versions” of local food. are they authentic?

    I give you another example. I am Italian and when I read some recipes from Elizabeth David’s Italian Food (1953), which is justly considered a classic, I am sometimes amazed: some of her recipes are totally unfamiliar to me and to very many Italians I spoke to (I am 43 and I have also asked people who are much older than me). yet she presents those recipes as “typical”…. is she right? is she wrong? she is right and wrong at the same time. she presents HER personal selection of dishes she must have tasted all those yrs back, that doesn’t mean those dishes are typical. do I make sense?
    I have always disliked the Taliban-like tone of the Medicin’s book. there are too many “absolute yes and absolute no(s)”.

    Plus one thing has always puzzled me: he mentions tomatoes, cucumbers, broad beans or artichokes (depending on the season), green peppers… well: Nice is not far from where I am writing to you (Milano) and very close to the Italian-Ligurian border. Here, when it is tomato & cucumber season (summer), broad beans and artichokes have already long disappeared.- they are a spring thing. you can still find the occasional artichoke, but no broad bean (at least here). Did I get something wrong? Plus, those green peppers.. apart from some Turkish recipes, green peppers are, to my knowledge, something very, very Un-Mediterranean… you will never find, for instance, an Italian recipe calling for green peppers (having said that.. never say never in life, of course)… again, did I get the wrong end of the stick?

    .. tonite I have just cooked bohemienne (aubergine stew with tomatoes) from Olney’s “Lulu”, which is different from the version in Jane Grigson, which is different from the ancient version in JB Reboul… which one is authentic?
    authenticity is a tricky business.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Plus> I don’t want to be preaching, but I would like everyone to remember that tuna has become an endangered species and unless one buys tuna (either fresh or canned) he/she is absolutely sure where he comes from, it is better to eat it as least as possible (especially bluefin tuna, the one used for good sushi). Please gather info from the net about the abysmal situation of tuna’ stocks and check where your fish comes from (as David says)
    ciao, from Milano
    stefano

    Hi Stefano: Thanks for your thoughts & I agree. I was using the recipe (and M. Médecin) as an example of something considered the “classic” although various versions of “classics” exist globally. (Try asking Americans if cornbread should be sweetened or unsweetened, if you want an earful.) Personally, I think it’s okay to veer from the original as long as it’s done in the same spirit. I responded a bit more in the comment below to the various other comments, but adding some potatoes or green beans to a Salade Niçoise feels more right to me than the piles of boiled rice they add to the Salade Niçoise in most Paris cafés. But I can’t explain why. And yes, people should be aware of the tuna they’re buying and search out sustainable tinned tuna. Ciao! -dl

  • July 24, 2010 6:37pm

    My father and I were just discussing anchovies last night and how bothersome it is that people dont like them….to say they dont like its generally they just hadnt tried them! I love this salad, classic and perfect!

  • July 24, 2010 7:34pm

    This recipe looks great, but I’m mostly commenting to say how exciting it is to see Corti Brothers listed as a resource on your site! I live just a few minutes away from their store so I may have to swing by there soon to pick up some anchovies for this salad!

  • July 24, 2010 7:34pm

    In a previous life I was an anchovy, and let me just say, humans, the feeling is mutual.

  • Jean Marie
    July 24, 2010 8:14pm

    Mmmm. Your salad looks so good but I have to agree with some of the others here on possible additions like new potatoes and green beans. It is so blasted hot here in D.C. that we had an assorted salad plate for dinner. Tomorrow is more of the same so perhaps this will be our Sunday meal. And I have anchovies in the pantry!

  • July 24, 2010 8:45pm

    I think perhaps there needs to be a new name given to the “non” authentic” version of Salade Nicoise, because when people go on about how potatoes and bean, tuna or otherwise, are not authentic it discredits the salad itself. And frankly its fantastic with all of those things. My first experience with salade Nicoise was indeed Julia’s and I yearn for it each summer. While authentic is lovely, I think a big summer meal salad like the in authentic has its place and should be given some respect.

  • Bonnie
    July 24, 2010 9:28pm

    I can’t think of salade nicoise without remembering the film A Good Year. An American tourist at a cafe in the south of France orders a “salad nee-swa-zay with low-cal Russian dressing, and sprinkle some of those bacon bits on top would you..” The outraged “waiter” played by Russell Crowe rips the menu from her hands and gives her directions to the nearest McDonalds!
    Thank you for the recipe…

  • July 25, 2010 12:30am

    I’m actually mind-boggled that people get that nit-picky with your recipes. Gosh-diddly-osh! If it tastes good, what’s the point in fussing about language overmuch? Language and monikors and recipes are always changing anyway. I say keep doing what you’re doing and keep calling it whatever you want. A rose by any other name… ;)

  • torontocook
    July 25, 2010 1:06am

    I’ll gladly agree with M. Médécin on all his other provençal rules – but a salade niçoise without a few new potatoes (preferably little fingerlings) and fresh-picked green beans, both boiled just so . . . lacks generosity.

  • July 25, 2010 4:18am

    Great post, and I see you linked to the “How to Pick, Clean and Prepare Fava Beans” post I wrote for The Kitchn – thanks! :)

  • July 25, 2010 4:30am

    Well, the whole question of what belongs in certain foods (like this salad) and what doesn’t means that food evolves. So we might think that ice cream has to have cream, but if you use ‘soy cream’ does that mean it’s okay to call it ice cream, but if you use ‘soy milk’ you can’t?

    Sometimes we get stuck thinking about foods in a certain way. Sure, I make Salade Niçoise myself with grilled or boiled potatoes and green beans (shhh…don’t tell) and it’s fine and no one complains. Yet invariably in Parisian cafés, if you order a salade Niçoise, it’ll most likely be presented with a big pile of boiled rice, which I just think is wrong. I can’t really explain why I think it’s okay to add cooked vegetables but not rice, but so be it.

    Jacques Médecin says in the introduction to his book that he saw Niçoise cooking either dying out, or people changing it, and was writing the recipes down to preserve them. So it could be construed as a historical document. Just like some of the recipes in old versions of Joy of Cooking became outdated, and were subjected to updates & revisions as things like eating squirrel and candy making went out of fashion. (Good thing one of those things came back…but not the other!)

    Foods change. The chiles in Thai food are a fairly recent addition, and people used to add cornmeal to chocolate to extend it, which I don’t think is a custom that needed to continue. I add baking powder to pound cake because it lightens the crumb a bit.

    But on the other hand, I don’t want raisins in my cole slaw (or bagels!), frozen corn doesn’t belong on pizza, I think, and the steak tartare aller-retour, which gets quickly seared on both sides but still served raw in the center, is probably delicious…although I usually just order the classic.

    But would consider branching out and giving it a try because it sounds kinda good
    : )

  • Patricia
    July 25, 2010 4:37am

    Truly a lovely salad, regardless of the lack of potato and green beans. A bowl of that salad on my kitchen table would quickly be an empty bowl

  • July 25, 2010 10:16am

    I have not tried frozen Fava’s yet but will do so- the Fava is still the mystery bean to most- You mean you take them out of the big shell and still have to do more? Whenever I am picking Fava’s or Cranberry beans for that matter at the store someone will always ask what I am going to do with those- Now that is Social Networking at its best-

    Oh for years I was in the “don’t like anchovy” category but would not have a Ceasar salad if it was NOT included – plus I loved my pasta and olive oil with anchovy – then it hit me – I like anchovies, I just do not like crappy anchovies-LOL so now I spend the money for good Sicilian anchovies or some nice ones packed in a very light vinegar-

  • July 25, 2010 11:13am

    David,
    have you ever tasted Italian canned tuna, especially the one sold by weight out of large cans in grocery stores? It tastes so much better than what is usually available in American supermarkets. Is it the same in France? (Here in Austria, stores carry Italian tuna, packaged in glass containers, pricey, but oh so good!)

  • July 25, 2010 9:48pm

    Reading your blog is simply fascinating, David. I even read all the comments! You lead a life to be envied, monsieur. I love salade niçoise and don’t even care about purists. Your blog always brings back memories of my stays in France, particularly in Provence, where I cooked with a chef for 6 months. I visited Collioure and fell in love with it, anchovies and all. Your photos are amazing!
    Bon appétit!

  • Rich Nixon
    July 25, 2010 11:17pm

    Thanks for the tomato tart recipe. I made it today with the quick crust and it turned out great!

  • July 26, 2010 1:22am

    This salad looks great. Reminds me of traditional Russain salads; healthy, simple ingredients combined to make a very satisfying dish. I will have to add the ingredients to my “pick in mom’s garden” list. Thanks for posting!

  • Leslie
    July 26, 2010 6:35am

    Dear David…. it isn’t bell peppers that are used in a Nicoise — or other salad. They are green, pointed and thin “poivron salade” — available in the markets or in the super markets. The flesh is thinner, and has a milder taste and they don’t overpower the other ingredients…. try them…….

  • Mrs Redboots
    July 26, 2010 7:09am

    @ Kahuna, no you absolutely don’t have to do more, I don’t know why Americans appear to think the grey inner skins are inedible! Just buy them frozen, microwave them for a few minutes, and enjoy. Or, better still, fresh from the garden, remove from pods (this will make your fingers dirty, but so what?), and again, microwave or steam for a few moments.

    @ David – re frozen sweetcorn on pizza – this is standard (and delicious) in the UK. But if you think about it, the US version of pizza is completely different from the Italian version so it’s only natural that the UK, France and other countries develop their own takes. In fact, in the UK, what used to be done with left-over bread dough was to soak it with lard and raisins to make a lardy cake! Which is also lovely…. interesting what different cultures “did” with left-over dough, and then how they adapted other peoples’ ideas.

  • July 26, 2010 10:51am

    Leslie: I do like those peppers much better, but I’m just not a fan of peppers (except chile peppers), so I omit them.

    Mrs Redboots: It’s probably not just the Americans, but the French must not like the fava bean skins either since Picard sells them peeled or unpeeled. I find the larger fava beans can have tough skins, but it is a job to peel them.

  • Collette
    July 26, 2010 2:36pm

    Thank you David for the wonderful lesson on my favorite French salad. And I’m glad you allow for substitutions, as I’ve never in my life been able to get an egg in it’s natural state (cooked or raw) down, and have always left them off when ordering or preparing this salad. But, if it is interdit to use any form of cooked or canned Tuna in the classic preparation, the Fava Beans and Anchovies look to make a delicious substitute for protein.

    By the way, the CIA has posted this version of a Nicoise sandwich. Not sure if it’s a classic Pan Bagnat or not, but (sans eggs) looks like a wonderful summer lunch.

    http://www.ciaprochef.com/potatoes/nicoise-salad-sandwich.html

  • Helen in CA
    July 26, 2010 4:12pm

    What to use if I can’t get favas? No branch of Picard’s in my part of the Bay area, after all.

  • July 26, 2010 4:21pm

    Hi Helen: As mentioned, frozen soybeans are a substitute. Since you live in the Bay Area, you can find them in Trader Joe’s stores, and perhaps other places like Whole Foods as well. The beans aren’t essential, but really do add to the flavor and texture.

  • Pam
    July 27, 2010 12:01am

    David,

    I have seen many version of salad nicoise but loved all of variety but I can see you are trying to be politically correct for your many readers which is understanding.

    For me, trying out this with heirloom green and yellow tomatoes will be just super, I can envision the final product, thanks for the inspiration.

  • July 27, 2010 9:54am

    David,

    Are American’s able to order the anchovies from Desclaux? I visted the shop when I was in Collioure recently and didnt bring enough home with me. Or do you have additional sources for good anchovies in the US?

    Thank you,

    Merideth

  • July 27, 2010 5:15pm

    I guess it all depends how deviant you want to be. I’ve taught and eaten Medecin’s recipe for years and love it but if you want to add green beans or potatoes, that’s fine. Just don’t add rice and call it Salade Nicoise!
    Even in Nice bastard versions abound. The best and most authentic I have found locally is at La Cave de la Tour, a lovely little wine bar in Old Nice.
    Hope you washed the salad down with a bottle of rose wine!

  • Justine
    July 27, 2010 6:27pm

    Dear David,
    As you love anchovies and cuisine niçoise (so do I!), why don’t you give us the recipe of the pissaladière? I’d be curious to see your version

    • August 30, 2016 11:49am
      David Lebovitz

      It’s in my book, My Paris Kitchen.

  • Tamar
    August 1, 2010 6:45am

    Thank you for the recipe.

    There is authenticity and there is, I guess, a later developed tradition/innovation, that is sometimes just as good and is already “the taste of home”.

    I have done your “authentic” salad, but the taste of Nicoise for me is the taste of the salad my sister used to make for Passover Seder, which had (of course!) potatoes (the boiled variety, we’re not much of “raw eating vegans” in my family…). But then again, we’re German, so we tend to ruin everything French ;-)

  • August 6, 2010 4:15pm

    I quadruple the Salade Nicoise recipe from a Silver Palate cookbook and add boston bibb lettuce with an extremely, garlicky dressing. It’s better than any Salade Nicoise I’ve ever eaten in Provence. A “true” Salade Nicoise; probably not, but delicious.

  • August 30, 2010 6:22am

    This salad is so good! I just realized today (after I made it a week ago) that I completely forgot to add the olives. Guess I’ll just have to do it again.

  • January 3, 2011 2:14am

    What a lovely salad! I love how strictly you explained the rules. Unfortunately, I cooked lots of vegetables last time I made it and used dressing and tofu instead of the tuna/anchovies. Guess I’ll have to give it another go!

    http://noshesthoughtsreves.blogspot.com/2011/01/happy-new-year-and-tofu-nicoise-salad.html

  • Cynthia
    September 13, 2020 7:22pm

    Love this! The reason haricots verts and potatoes became de rigueur might be from the New York Times cookbook version, some 25+ years ago. Dressing was a combo of peanut oil and olive oil, with vinegar and shallots, which really tied in the beans with the canned tuna in oil. Can’t wait to try this more “authentic” version!

    • Jacqueline
      September 14, 2020 4:26am

      The Larousse Gastronomique was published in 1938. It calls for both potatoes and French (string) beans.

  • ron shapley
    September 13, 2020 7:33pm

    It seems what we have here Dave is a composed salad vs/ Salade Nicoise…No ???

  • Adele Cygelman
    September 13, 2020 9:45pm

    I use boiled potatoes because once they’re cooked I add in the anchovies, which then dissolve, plus a spoonful of vinaigrette to start layering flavors. then the green beans get steamed over the same boiling water as the potatoes. obviously not the “classic,” but delicious this way. I wonder how the potatoes/green beans got their start?

  • Kyra
    September 14, 2020 12:26am

    Je suis niçoise, j’ai même un tshirt qui dit Niçoise comme la salade! Alors quel plaisir de voir une salade niçoise sans légumes cuits!!! Mais même dans mon pays il y en a qui y ajoutent un peu de tout. Ma famille y met du thon ET des anchois!! Eh, oui, nous aussi on est coupable!
    So sorry, I wrote in French without thinking. The salade took me home!! So here is what i said, in case you need a translation (plus a little more!)
    I am from Nice. I even have a tshirt that says ‘Niçoise like the salad’, so what a pleasure to see a salade niçoise without cooked veggies. But even in my land there are those who add about anything! My family adds tuna AND anchovies. We too are guilty! But PLEASE do not add cooked veggies. Remember, the farmers in the fields only had available raw vegetables.

  • Jim (Canada & Languedoc)
    September 14, 2020 1:02am

    You must have known this would be contentious subject when you started this posting! Thanks so much for the authentic recipe – while I’m not a Fava bean lover and have admittedly used baby potatoes and blanched green beans in mine, a salad Nicoise is a thing of beauty – regardless of the rules. Keep cooking and writing – we love it.

    • September 14, 2020 10:10am
      David Lebovitz

      It wasn’t meant to be contentious; I culled the recipe from a few very reliable sources because I think it’s interesting to show a traditional Niçoise salade, as described by two well-regarded Niçoise cooks. (Rosa Jackson, who teaches Niçoise cooking in Nice, also says that in Nice, the salad should have “no raw vegetables.”) But I certainly don’t think it has to be a fight & anyone can add whatever they like. If someone wants to use chicken in cassoulet rather then duck (either because they can’t find duck or chicken is easier to get) or they can’t find rascasse (Scorpion fish, which is hard to find away from Marseilles) but want to make bouillabaisse, who am I to tell them not to? ; )

  • Grizelda
    September 14, 2020 3:55am

    Broad beans in Nicoise? Are they ripe at same time as tomatoes in Nice?
    New potatoes small and sweet, pencil thin green beans, oily little black olives, solid tuna packed in olive oil. Keep the radish whole on the side with butter and salt and the greens attached to crunch separately and put the anchovies on some crispy slices of yesterdays toasted stale bagette.
    Nicoise is not a tossed salad it is a salad with compartments of ingredients not least of which are the perfectly soft hard boiled eggs just barely set. Thats French. Not American French.

  • Jacqueline
    September 14, 2020 4:21am

    I watched your delightful Instagram video. I especially enjoyed listening to the back and forth of languages. I was so surprised to learn that the Nice version (assuredly the one, true version) is so different from what I had always thought was the way to prepare a Salad Nicoise. I have been making this incorrectly for decades. And I can’t blame Julia Child. For French cooking, I often relied on the Larousse Gastronomique which I thought was the Bible of French cooking. According to the Larousse Gastronomique, “Salad Nicoise Mix equal parts of potatoes and French (string) beans, both cut in dice. Season with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Arrange in dome in a salad dish. Decorate with fillets of anchovies, olives and capers. Garnish with quartered tomatoes. Sprinkle with chopped chervil and tarragon.” I could see the elimination of potatoes and French beans, but I would have never guessed that one would include fava beans; nor would I ever use sliced onions as I find the flavor overpowers everything.
    I look forward to watching more of your Instagram posts, especially with Roman.

    • September 14, 2020 10:07am
      David Lebovitz

      Jacques Médecin really goes on a tear against versions with cooked vegetables. Like most French cuisine (and really, cuisines of many places) the dish(es) likely began using only local products, with variations occurring as people moved or other things became available.

  • September 14, 2020 4:25am

    I was shocked with I put the question to an old paysan market vendor in our town, what do you put in your Nicoise salad? when he answered, rice! But then we live close to Arles and the Camargue, rice growing country, which made me realise that a Nicoise salad is more about ‘use what you got,’ and changes with the region that you live in. Maybe it should have been called ‘Salade de voter region…’

  • September 14, 2020 4:27am

    I was shocked with I put the question to an old paysan market vendor in our town, what do you put in your Nicoise salad? when he answered, rice! But then we live close to Arles and the Camargue, rice growing country, which made me realise that a Nicoise salad is more about ‘use what you got,’ and changes with the region that you live in. Maybe it should have been called ‘Salade de votre region…’

    • Michèle
      September 14, 2020 12:45pm

      Salade du region it is. Et du saison.

  • Leslie Toibin Bacon
    September 14, 2020 4:54am

    what shocked me is that you don’t use salad peppers in your salads…. NOBODY uses bell peppers — too harsh, too strong. Every green grocer (in France) carries this long, mild green pepper… which are wonderful. How did you miss them????

    • September 14, 2020 10:02am
      David Lebovitz

      I see piments doux, which are the long mild green peppers, but I find them not too flavorful. Certainly not as good as the lovely peppers they have in Nice and in the south of France. (I keep wishing we could get fresh pimente d’Espelette in Paris, too!)

      • Michèle
        September 14, 2020 12:44pm

        I agree with David!

      • Gigi
        September 14, 2020 4:55pm

        I meet with a group Sunday nights. We eat a light meal together which is never planned. One of my contributions that received the best raves was Julia’s Salade Nicoise. Yes, green beans, and yes, potatoes seasoned with vinaigrette including white wine. . It was beautiful visually and delicious. I took home an empty platter. Authenticity??? Nobody cared.

  • Michèle
    September 14, 2020 12:42pm

    Thanks for reminding me how nice salade Nicoise is. I see you had salted anchovies in your photo; personally I prefer in oil. But anchois are a must must must in this salad. I also thought capers were…. I always put those too. In fact my research implies the “real” salad is lost in the mists of time, and even in Nice and up and down the Cote d’Azur you mostly have them with green beans and baby potatoes & tinned tuna. I put potatoes when I’m feeding more people, so it goes further. I always put tinned tuna, the top yellow tin Spanish stuff. Unless I’m putting thin slices of charred fresh tuna.
    So we can see! Whatever you fancy in this salad is ok so long as you’ve got anchovies & olives (and in my book, capers). Thank you David. La bise. xx

    • September 14, 2020 2:06pm
      David Lebovitz

      Last time I was in Nice I went to a food shop that sold fresh pasta. They also had packets of panisse dough already made, to fry up as chickpea fritters. I was (very) surprised that one of the ingredients listed was wheat flour. As far as I know, there is never any wheat flour in panisses, just chickpea flour. But you’re right that even in the region, people take liberties and make variations.

  • September 14, 2020 3:11pm

    A debate is raging over what constitutes a “correct” salade Niçoise. To the purists, the rules are very clear: no vinegar, no lettuce, no fresh tuna, and absolutely no boiled vegetables, like potatoes or green beans. If you try to add any of these, you will be labeled as a heretic and sent to hell for your sins. To everyone else, any and all additions are fair game. And so the war rages on between the classicists and the non-conformists. Salade Niçoise began its life as a household catch-all salad based on what was available from the garden and anchovies packed in olive oil sitting in the pantry. It first appeared on menus in the late 1800s a few decades after Nice became part of France finally for the last time. Over the years, everything under the sun has been added, from salmon, corn, shrimp, avocados, lemons, to even grains. Even in Nice, I have witnessed every possible mutation of this salad on restaurant menus. Jacques Medecin, the disgraced former mayor of Nice who wrote the definitive cookbook on Niçoise cuisine, said: “At its most basic – and genuine – it is made predominately of tomatoes, consists exclusively of raw ingredients (apart from hard-boiled eggs), and has no vinaigrette dressing: the tomatoes are salted three times and moistened with olive oil. However, nowadays even the Niçois often combine anchovies and tunny fish in the same salad, though traditionally this was never done – tunny used to be very expensive and was reserved for special occasions, so the cheaper anchovies filled the bill.” Renee Graglia, ambassador of cuisine Nissarde and former president of the Cercle de la Capelina d’Or, a group devoted to defending traditional Niçoise cuisine once said: “our cooking was simple food for poor people. At first, Salade Niçoise was made only with tomatoes, anchovies, and olive oil.” The Cercle de la Capelina d’Or’s salade Niçoise includes tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, salted anchovies, tuna, spring onions, small black Nice olives, and basil. They advise that you are allowed to add young, tender broad beans out of the pod, young, raw artichokes, and thin green peppers. Salade Niçoise should be made in a wood bowl rubbed with garlic and you can only season the salad with olive oil and salt — though it is permissible if no one is looking to add a bit of pepper and a few drops of vinegar.

    Henri Heyraud, chef, teacher and author of La Cuisine a Nice, written in 1903, included tomatoes, anchovies, artichokes, olive oil, red peppers, and black olives. Auguste Escoffier, perhaps France’s most famous chef to have ever lived, is credited with popularizing the addition of boiled potatoes and green beans to salade Niçoise. Graglia derided Escoffier by saying: “He wasn’t even a Niçois.” True, the heretic Escoffier was born in Villeneuve-Loubet, a town that is a full 20 minutes away. Nice grandmothers found a thrifty way to deal with stale bread by adding it to salade Niçoise. Pan Bagnat, which translates to wet bread, originally was a salad Niçoise with chunks of old dried bread added to it a few hours before. Think of it more like a French version of panzanella, the famous Tuscan bread and vegetable salad. In an interview before her death, Renee Graglia mentioned that bread was baked only every three weeks so it got hard, and the juicy salad and a bit of water helped soften it enough to eat. The dish became so popular that it morphed into the current version of the salad served inside a small round loaf. At the end of the day, add whatever you want. It is your salad and you can eat it how you like. My mother always added cooked potatoes and green beans, but then she is from Marseille, where the purists are busy waging their own wars over bouillabaisse!

    • September 14, 2020 6:23pm
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for chiming in with some historical perspective! For all of Jacques Médecin’s issues (and there were a lot of them…) his book is well-respected as a guide to Niçoise cooking. I think vinegar is added nowadays partially because it’s hard to get very good tomatoes and a touch of acidity brings out flavors. Interestingly, I didn’t think black pepper was a part of it but Médecin includes it in his Salade Niçoise.

      As for Escoffier, he had his own issues (like scamming the hotel he worked at out of huge sums of money, the equivalent of $3 million today)! His Île Flottante also has pieces of cake imbibed with kirsch and maraschino as well as apricot jam, almonds and dried currants as a garnish, which I think is his “interpretation” of the classic dessert.

      I did look at what is considered to be the authentic Pan Bagnat recipe but it’s interesting that it began its life as a Salade Niçoise with chunks of stale bread added. I always thought it was just a sandwich stuffing for bread. The “official” recipe is bread rubbed with garlic, tomatoes, radishes and/or spring onions (onions “tolerated”), fava beans and/or artichoke hearts, little green peppers, tuna and/or anchovies, hard-cooked eggs, basil, black olives, olive oil (once again, vinegar is “tolerated”!), salt and pepper.

      Speaking of Panzanella, years ago I made a tomato and bread cube salad and called it Panzanella and you would have thought I had unleashed a virus in the world (!) But I remade Panzanella the “authentic” way with crumbled old bread, and it definitely wasn’t nearly as popular as the version with garlicky bread cubes.

  • shelley
    September 14, 2020 9:15pm

    Omigosh, “The Cuisine of the Sun”. Ive had that book for decades, I love it!

  • Roald
    September 15, 2020 12:58am

    I tried ordering the Callol Serrats anchovies but they want my “VAT number”.

    We don’t have VAT numbers in Alaska.

    I’m an anchovy fan and a bit of a connoisseur – Salt-packed Agostino Recca for years.

    Any idea where I can order some in the New World?

    (Ix-nay Amazon.)

    • September 15, 2020 6:31am
      David Lebovitz

      If you’re in the U.S. you shouldn’t need a VAT number. I would call Beaune Imports or send a message via email, to inquire about it. Their contact info is on their website: Beaune Imports.

  • Roby
    September 15, 2020 12:30pm

    Bontà e freschezza assicurati…non ne ho dubbi!

  • witloof
    September 15, 2020 10:13pm

    “defunding the authenticity police” made me laugh out loud.

    I have some lovely veg and eggs and anchovies, looks like dinner is sorted!

  • Benazir's Kitchen
    September 17, 2020 10:37pm

    I am gonna try it! Yemmyyyyyyy
    Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe

  • September 18, 2020 7:00am

    Easy way (A Japanese trick) to peel hard boiled eggs is, once cooked, drain out the water. Throw some cold water on them. Throw that out. Then shake the pot fiercely (with the lid on). They will peel themselves easily! Et voila. I admit to hard-boiling eggs in my electric tea pot – very fast. I let them sit for a while to harden. As for anchovies, the absolute best in the world are from Cantabrico, Spain. They are positively silken. Ppl eat them straight from the can. One excellent brand, impossible to find in paris and very $$$ is http://www.Salanort.com Just sayin

  • Edith
    October 2, 2020 1:33pm

    My family is from the Dordogne region. We always had a summer salad similar to Salad Nicoise. It had warm potatoes but no olives. Perhaps we should call such a salad Salade Dordognoise?

  • Pierre
    December 24, 2020 9:16am

    I was born in Nice, and live in Nice right now and I thank you for trying to tell the truth to people… when talking cooking, the reference is mostly Medecin’s book ;)
    Even in France, if you go 50 km away from Nice they just f**k up all our recipes…
    So people, if you want to discover another part of France with an Italian heart, chill people and true Mediterranean food, far from the Parisian austerity, we are more than happy to welcome you in Nice !

A

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