Tuna Nicoise Salad

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This Tuna Niçoise Salad elevates a humble can of tuna into an elegant, fancy, and bright-tasting salad. The salad greens are topped with a myriad of veggies and potatoes, olive-oil-packed tuna, and the best light lemon vinaigrette to tie everything together beautifully.

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How Is Niçoise Salad Pronounced?

Niçoise is pronounced “nee·swaaz.” (Here’s where to hear it and practice if you’re interested.) The name comes from Nice, the French city where it originated. Oh, and by the way, the funny-looking mark on the letter C is called a cedilla.

Overhead image of the Tuna Niçoise Salad on a platter

Tuna Niçoise Salad Recipe

A great, creamy, mayo-based Tuna Salad is a favorite at my home, but when we’re craving something a little lighter, nothing beats this salad!

From the olive-oil-packed tuna to the light and zippy lemon vinaigrette to the myriad of veggies — this salad is the definition of light and fresh! Not only is every bite delicious, but it  leaves your body feeling nourished and fueled.

Feel free to make this salad your own — add more or less of the veggies you like, leaving out any you aren’t as fond as. This salad is meant to be a bit of an artistic creation — compose the ingredients across the greens that you like best, however you feel looks best!

Process shots-- images of the dressing being prepared and shaken

What Is Niçoise Salad Dressing Made Of?

Speaking of the lemon vinaigrette — this dressing is well worth the few minutes it takes to make; it’s fresh and vibrant tasting with so much flavor — it makes this Tuna Niçoise Salad! Here are the main ingredients:

  • Dijon mustard. We love Grey Poupon® Dijon best. Make sure to use Dijon, not yellow mustard. 
  • Olive oil. We recommend extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. Better oil = better flavor.
  • Honey. Add less for a tangier dressing, and more for a sweeter one.
  • Lemons. We use fresh lemon juice because bottled lemon juice doesn’t offer the same flavor as fresh, and we need the lemon zest, too.  
  • Salt & pepper. Every dressing needs salt and pepper, and this vinaigrette is no exception. Add to taste preference, remembering that an extra pinch can be the difference between a good and a stellar dressing!

Process shots of the Tuna Niçoise Salad-- images of the chopped romaine, beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes being added to a platter

What Is A Tuna Niçoise Salad?

This composed salad typically includes sliced hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna, tomatoes, and other fresh vegetables. The actual ingredients in the salad typically vary depending on what produce is in season (and depending on who is making it — there have been many variations of this salad and a lot of debate on the “proper” way to make it!).

This salad is dressed in olive oil or an olive oil-based dressing; we love a lemon vinaigrette on top!

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Tuna Niçoise is a composed salad. Composed salads are arranged on a plate or platter, rather than being tossed in a large bowl.

Process shots-- images of the potatoes, eggs, olives, tuna, and dressing being added to the dish

What Is In A Tuna Nicoise Salad?

  • Canned tuna packed in olive oil. Tuna packed in olive oil is richer and has a fresher flavor. Albacore is the lightest of the tuna meats, so it doesn’t have a fishy flavor. IMO, the best canned tuna for Niçoise Salad is Genova’s® albacore tuna.
  • Veggies. We love English/Persian salad cucumbers, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, golden potatoes, and blanched green beans best in this salad. 
  • Hard-boiled eggs. The eggs add protein and flavor. While making hard-boiled eggs is easy, it can be time-consuming. For an easier salad, grab store-bought hard-boiled eggs. (a lot of stores sell eggs that have been hard boiled for your convenience.)

Upclose overhead image of the Tuna Niçoise Salad

How To Make A Tuna Niçoise Salad

The full recipe is below, but here are a few tips!

  • Chop, wash, and thoroughly dry the Romaine lettuce before tossing it with the dressing. (We love using a salad spinner!) Wet lettuce waters down the dressing and the salad won’t be as pleasant. If time permits, chill the washed (and dried) lettuce and salad dressing and keep refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble.
  • We love using crisp and flavorful cucumbers like English or Persian (sometimes labeled salad cucumbers) cucumbers.
  • Chill veggies ahead of time if possible — the salad tastes best with chilled ingredients!

Overhead image of the dressed salad ready to be enjoyed

STORAGE

Tuna Niçoise Salad Storage

  • This salad doesn’t sit very well with the dressing — it wilts the veggies quickly. Additionally, everything will taste a bit fishy (and like olives) after sitting for an extended period of time.
  • If you aren’t planning to eat the entire salad in one sitting, toss and add dressing, tuna, and olives to the amount you’ll be eating at this time. Undressed, the salad stays fresh for 1-2 days.

More Tuna Recipes:

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Tuna Nicoise Salad

5 from 2 votes
This Tuna Niçoise Salad elevates a humble can of tuna into an elegant, fancy, and bright-tasting salad. The salad greens are topped with a myriad of veggies and potatoes, olive-oil-packed tuna, and the best light lemon vinaigrette to tie everything together beautifully.
Print Recipe

Tuna Nicoise Salad

5 from 2 votes
This Tuna Niçoise Salad elevates a humble can of tuna into an elegant, fancy, and bright-tasting salad. The salad greens are topped with a myriad of veggies and potatoes, olive-oil-packed tuna, and the best light lemon vinaigrette to tie everything together beautifully.
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine Healthy
Keyword Tuna Nicoise Salad
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 377kcal
Cost $10.92

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1-1/3 cup (7 oz.) baby Yukon Gold potatoes (~8-10 mini potatoes)
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup salad cucumbers, halved
  • 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce (~1/2 head) (Note 1)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled & quartered (Note 2)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, drained
  • 10 oz. tuna in olive oil, drained (Note 3)

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, optional
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 large lemon (plus 1/4 teaspoon zest, optional)
  • Fine sea salt & cracked pepper

Instructions

  • COMBINE: In a wide-mouth jar, combine all the dressing ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper; I add 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Shake well to combine and emulsify. (Don't have a jar? Briskly whisk in a bowl instead!) Check to make sure honey isn't sticking to the bottom -- whisk it into the mixture if it is. Taste and adjust the dressing to personal preference.
  • POTATOES AND BEANS: Add whole baby potatoes to a pot. Add enough water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, salt the water, and cook until potatoes are tender and can easily be pierced with a fork (about 15-20 minutes, depending on size). Meanwhile, trim green beans and cut in half. Use a slotted spoon to remove potatoes while keeping the water boiling. Add in green beans and boil until crisp tender (to your liking), about 2-5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water until cooled. Cut cooled potatoes in half or quarters.
  • ASSEMBLY: Coarsely chop Romaine lettuce and add to a large bowl (or platter). Toss with some of the dressing. Then, add all the other ingredients onto the lettuce, arranging decoratively. Drizzle with remaining dressing (or as much as you'd like), gently toss, and serve immediately. (Note 4)

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Romaine: Chop, wash, and thoroughly dry the Romaine lettuce before tossing it with the dressing. (We love using a salad spinner!) If the lettuce is at all wet from being washed, it will water down the dressing and the salad won't be as pleasant. If time permits, chill the washed (and dried) lettuce and salad dressing and keep refrigerated until you're ready to assemble.
Note 2: Hard-boiled eggs: While making hard-boiled eggs is easy, it can be time-consuming. A lot of stores sell eggs that have been hard-boiled for your convenience. Otherwise, here's my favorite way to hard boil eggs: Add 1 inch of hot water to a large pot. Add a steamer insert inside and cover the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the eggs to the steamer basket and cover. Cook for 13 minutes. Meanwhile, fill up a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes (about 12-15). After eggs have steamed, drain and add them directly into ice water and let them cool for a full 15 minutes before peeling. Once they've fully cooled, gently tap the hard-boiled eggs all over to crack the shell. Then remove the shell under running cool water. Start at the wider end -- there is usually an air pocket there which will make the shell easier to remove.
Note 3: Tuna: This recipe uses two (5-ounce) cans.) Choose canned tuna packed in olive oil if you can -- it is richer and has a fresher flavor. Albacore is the lightest of the tuna meats, so it doesn’t have a fishy flavor. My personal favorite is Genova’s® albacore tuna
Note 4: Storage: This salad doesn’t sit very well with the dressing -- it wilts the veggies quickly. Additionally, everything will taste a bit fishy (and like olives) after sitting for an extended period of time. If you aren’t planning to eat the entire salad in one sitting, toss and add dressing, tuna, and olives to the amount you’ll be eating at this time.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.1g | Protein: 24.5g | Fat: 24.3g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 308.5mg | Fiber: 4.1g | Sugar: 4.9g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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