salade Nicoise

Ah, la salade niçoise

One of the classics of French cooking and one of my favorite things to dig into sitting on the terrace of a café, dreaming idling away the afternoon by the sparkling Mediterranean. But really, who wouldn’t want to dig into a big, fresh salad bursting forth with the flavors of the sunny French Riviera, no matter where you live?

There’s always much controversy about the salade niçoise regarding what’s authentic and what’s not.

Does one use fresh or canned tuna?

Is there a bed of lettuce underneath or does one leave it out?

Are there olives in it?

Boiled potatoes or rice?

Should it be mixed or composed?

And although I’m not convinced about artichokes, there’s folks out there who swear by them.

I’m not really sure if there’s a definitive answer as to what’s correct.

But I’m pretty sure about one thing.

This ain’t it…

salade nicoise

(See inside the can.)


  • August 16, 2007 10:35am

    HA! Thanks for the giggle.

  • August 16, 2007 10:51am

    Oh dear!

  • August 16, 2007 10:51am

    But it says Nicoise salad on the side, it must be right. =P

    Seriously, who buys salad like this? I bet the tuna is actually old bits of Friskies from a can.

  • August 16, 2007 11:07am

    But look at the pretty colors, the package to content ratio is very high, all the things that must make it wonderfully local and fresh…not.

    So, even in France…I always suspected a soft underbelly…

  • matt
    August 16, 2007 11:15am

    It’s not?


  • August 16, 2007 11:18am

    Sorry to go off topic, but I thought you might be tickled by this blog entry.

    The blogger is making all the recipes from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry cookbook. In the above entry she finds a mistake in one of the recipes (for ice cream) and uses “The Perfect Scoop” to make a correction…

  • August 16, 2007 1:20pm

    David, you made me laugh, but partly it was a laugh-to-keep-from-crying.
    God that looks disgusting.

  • August 16, 2007 1:26pm

    Composed. Agnostic on olives. Potatoes, not rice. Anchovy fillets instead of tuna.

    But salad out of a can? No, no, no.

  • August 16, 2007 2:01pm

    Come on – genius marketing! Not everyone has time to make their own…people like convenience!


  • August 16, 2007 2:02pm

    But what I want to know is… did you buy the tub to take the photo? Please say no!

  • KateC
    August 16, 2007 3:45pm

    So, would this be #1 on the list of “10 Insanely Unappetizing Things You Should Miss in Paris”?

  • August 16, 2007 5:19pm


    Oh my gawd, that’s funny.

    Reminds me of Kraft putting 1% avocado in a tub of other stuff and calling it guacamole.

  • Jules
    August 16, 2007 5:55pm

    Good canned tuna in oil (AND anchovies, too), lettuce, of course olives (olives Nicoise), POTATOES (rice, wtf?), composed for sure, and also boiled egg, tomatoes, green beans and capers.

    I just, last night, watched The French Chef episode for Salade Nicoise from 1970. How I love Julia. That’s how she makes it and I always made it that way without even knowing.

  • August 16, 2007 6:17pm

    the only thing that seems interesting about this canned salad is … the box with the re-usable lid :)
    ( hmm wait, the labels don’t seem to be removable, even the package isn’t interesting after all ! well done, guys from the marketing team :D )


  • Jill
    August 16, 2007 6:42pm

    Tuna, potatoes, green beans, olives, egg, tomatoes and capers. I tried using some leftover chicken in place of the tuna once and really liked it.

  • Jane
    August 16, 2007 7:47pm

    This is so weird. I had just gone online to find Julia’s recipe for Salad Nicoise because I’m making it tomorrow night. But first, I thought, I check in on David’s blog.

    And there it was. It must be a sign! A sign from David!

    For what it’s worth, Julia Child’s recipe has always worked for me.

  • August 16, 2007 8:18pm

    The only thing scarier is imagining what it must look like inside.

    Jane, at least 2 bloggers made Julia’s version for yesterday’s birthday party in her honor. Check here.

  • August 16, 2007 10:27pm

    Call me a heretic, but I like my potatoes still warm and roasted.
    Les francais m’appellent “girl destroy”. Heh.

  • Terrie
    August 17, 2007 1:28am

    Oh my god. ;-)

  • martina
    August 17, 2007 1:35am

    RICE?? The horror. What do you even do with it? Is it served in a little pile on the side? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Gack.
    I am a firm believer in fresh, barely seared, tuna, never canned, but I did have a great one with smoked fish (trout?) once.

  • August 17, 2007 5:17am

    Lydia: I was trapped in the Monoprix supermarket during a rainstorm and starting roaming the aisles. I felt bad about buying it since I don’t want to promote that kind of thing, but I was thinking: This is too good. I need to share it with my readers!

    …and I think you mean, “Please say yes At least I hope you do : )

    Martina: For some reason, the cafés in Paris are inordinately fond of putting white rice on salads. Including la salade niˆoise. Perhaps because it’s a cheap filler?

    If anyone knows where the Parisian tradition of putting white rice on Caesar and other salads, please fill us in!

    Elise: 1% ?? Talk about adding fillers! I wonder what the other 99% is?

  • August 17, 2007 8:39am

    I once ordered a salad nicoise in Pizza Express here in the UK. When it arrived, the canned tuna on top was still in the shape of the tin, with one of those very thin strips of paper that get attached to the tin opener nestled in amongst it. When I complained about this, the waiter replied with the very bizarre comment, “Why don’t you just go to McDonalds then!”

    Er, I wanted better food thanks, not the worst! I wasn’t expecting much from Pizza Express but come on!! Not as bad as that tub in your post though….

  • August 17, 2007 9:13am

    Haha! Everything has to be packaged. Wonder if someone buy your container with salade niçoise and says, “Oh, delicious.”

  • August 17, 2007 10:16am

    yes – it looks dubious to say the least…

  • Steve
    August 17, 2007 3:41pm

    … oh my! If “Charley the Tuna” ever knew!

  • August 19, 2007 11:09am

    Funny! Monoprix sells a not bad take away Nicoise salad with the vinaigrette tucked into the bottom.
    I’m with Jules on ingredients here…

  • lindsay
    August 24, 2007 1:23am

    rice: insalata de riso in italy…maybe thats where they are getting the idea from. salads with rice, tuna, tomato, olives, mozzerella, etc. all mixed together–

  • Merc
    August 30, 2007 8:44pm

    hmmmmmm…… it’s all about Pizza Express Salade Nicoise!! with the doughy sticks around the plate to dip in some garlic butter hmmmm…. One of the best dishes in Pizza Express in my opinion.

Leave a comment


Get recipes and blog posts sent right to your Inbox!


Subscribe and receive David's free guide to the best pastry shops in Paris