A classic salade Niçoise is a famous salad that originated in the town of Nice in the French Riviera. It is a composed salad made up mostly of fresh vegetables. Composed means that the ingredients are carefully arranged to look aesthetically pleasing instead of being tossed together as in a traditional salad.
There is a lot of debate of what should or shouldn’t go into a salade Niçoise–from top chefs to the locals in Nice! The salade Niçoise served in France can be more conservative compared to the U.S. versions of this salad, because Americans seem to be more accepting of controversial ingredients. An overall consensus is that the classic salade Niçoise has basic traditional French ingredients, but many regional variations.
What are the key ingredients and components to a salade Niçoise? Most chefs can agree that a traditional salade Niçoise has a foundation of fresh tomatoes, small black olives, anchovies, and olive oil. They can also agree that a classic salade Niçoise has six components: fish, fresh vegetables, a cooked egg or vegetable, a pickled salty vegetable, dressing, and spices. Understanding this helps the creative cook be true to the form of the salad, but also gives them the freedom to experiment with what’s in season.
Salade Niçoise is great to display on a large platter to a group as it allows the guests to choose what they would like to eat. Serve this salad with a crusty french baguette and a slice of tarte tatin.Print
Classic salade Niçoise is a low carb, gluten free French salad made with arugula, tomatoes, yellow pepper, olives, anchovies, hard boiled eggs, and a drizzle of olive oil. It makes a great lunch or light dinner!
- 4 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
- 1/3 cup milk (for soaking the anchovies)
- 4 plum tomatoes, quartered
- 4 large eggs, quartered
- 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 6 cups baby arugula
- 3 spring onions, roots removed
- 24 black Kalamata olives, pitted
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
- Drizzle of olive oil on greens
- Sprinkle of salt and pepper on arugula, tomatoes, and eggs
Preparing the Ingredients
- If using anchovies, drain and reserve the oil. Rinse the anchovies and soak them in milk for at least 1 hour and up to overnight in the fridge to reduce the saltiness. Before using, rinse the anchovies, cut the fillets into thin slices, and place in a small bowl. The reserved oil can be used to store any unused anchovies or to drizzle on the salad greens.
- Boil the 4 eggs for 9 minutes. Shock the eggs by putting them in an ice bath for 15 minutes. This will halt the cooking process and make it easier for peeling. Peel the eggs, rinse off any tiny shells, dry off with a paper towel, then quarter them lengthwise with a sharp knife. Wipe the knife on a damp paper towel between each cut. Place the eggs on a small plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Rinse the bell pepper and slice thinly. Place the peppers on a small plate.
- Rinse the tomatoes, quarter, then sprinkle with salt. Place them upside down in a sieve set over a bowl for 10 minutes. This helps to draw the moisture out. Turn the tomatoes right side up and sprinkle with black pepper.
- Rinse 3 spring onions. Cut off the roots and trim them to the same length, roughly 7 inches.
- Measure out 6 cups of baby arugula.
- Take out 24 olives from the jar and place in a small bowl.
Composing the Salad
- Peel and halve a garlic clove, then rub the cut side all over each plate. This will give your salad a nice aroma.
- Place a neat pile (about 1 1/2 cups) of baby arugula on top of each plate. Lightly drizzle them with olive oil, reserved anchovy oil, or both, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Mince up the halved garlic clove and sprinkle it evenly over the four plates.
- Artfully arrange your fresh vegetables, eggs, and anchovies on top of the bed of fresh greens. Each plate should have 4 egg quarters, 4 tomato slices, 1/2 spring onion, 6 olives, 8 bell pepper slices, and 1 thinly sliced anchovy fillet. Serve immediately.
There are many ways to customize your salad Niçoise. Change it up by using the following suggestions.
- Fish: tuna packed in oil is widely used instead of anchovies
- Fresh Vegetables: mixed salad greens, scallions, purple artichoke hearts, celery hearts, red onion
- Salty/Pickled: black olives, capers
Different regions in France also have variations of this salad. Here are some to consider.
- Cooked Ingredients: French green beans, fava beans, baby potatoes, boiled eggs
- Fresh Herbs: basil or parsley
- Dressing: olive oil, French vinaigrette, freshly squeezed lemon juice