Classic French Niçoise Salad with Tonnino Tuna
The first time I tried this French summer salad was in Paris. You know, when in Rome. Well, you know what I mean. Some years back, I was in Paris on vacation with my daughters. It all started with Mary Kate and Ashley—my girls loved those two, and after we watched Passport to Paris, of course we had to go. Well, the twins don’t get all the credit—my girls loved Madeleine too.
One day, we had just finished up at the Louvre, and we were all hungry. We stopped at a lovely little café and I ordered the escargot. Maddy—who was a kindergartner at the time—went right for it. I couldn’t believe how brave she was! She was not afraid of those little snails. Not one bit. After the escargot, we filled up on Niçoise salad. That Parisian lunch will forever be one of my favorite meals.
The secret to the best Niçoise salad recipe? Use the best ingredients.
Niçoise olives are the best olives to use in a Niçoise salad but Kalamata olives are a good substitute.
If you can find them, I like to use Niçoise olives for this salad. These petite olives are a terrific addition, but one note of caution: they always have pits! Unfortunately, they are just too tiny to pit—so warn your guests! If you can’t get your hands on Niçoise olives, you can always substitute them with kalamata olives. Kalamata are delicious here too.
Get Tonnino tuna for your Niçoise salad whenever possible!
The real secret to this classic French salad, though, is the perfect vinaigrette. And really good tuna. I personally like to use an oil-packed tuna filet like Tonnino tuna. If you can’t find oil-packed tuna filets, get the best canned tuna you can find at your local grocery store. The tuna is the star of this dish, so you don’t want to skimp on the quality!
Last but not least, let’s talk about which green beans to use for your Niçoise salad.
My recipe also calls for a delicious French green bean called haricot vert. Literally translating to “green bean”, this delicate variety is more slender than a traditional green bean. You can substitute regular green beans, but remember that the two types of beans have different blanching times. You want the beans to be bright green and still crisp after they are blanched. Remember to rinse the beans immediately under very cold water to stop the cooking process.
Serve my Classic French Niçoise Salad for a Group
For the summer buffet table, serve one big Niçoise salad on a large serving platter. For fancier and more formal gatherings, I recommend plating up several individual salads.