Salt & Wind Travel

Modern Niçoise Salad

It seems cliché, but the first time I ever had Nice’s eponymous salad — Salade Niçoise — was in the port of Nice.

I was in high school on my first trip to France and was swooning over everything from the architecture to the accents and, of course, the food. Adding tuna and egg to my salad seemed adult to me, so I went for it. 

What Is Tuna Niçoise Salad?

When I was in culinary school, we had to make salade composeé on the regular. Translating to “composed salad,” these are salads where every ingredient is arranged with the intention on each plate. It’s clearly a concept that came out of brigade kitchens where you had tons of hands to pull together a meal.

The best known of these composed salads is likely the Salade Niçoise (pronounced Sah-lahd Knee-swa-zeh). Translating to a Nice-style salad, the dish is so named because it’s said to hail from Nice’s Southern French seaside town. It is usually made by combining tomatoes, anchovies or tuna, French-style green beans, and olives-boiled eggs.

At its best, it’s a summery salad that’s filling enough to be a complete meal, but it’s often made as an afterthought with subpar ingredients. The truth is, that the very first Niçoise salad I had was underwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A More Modern Niçoise Salad

On my latest trip to Provence, I was blown away by how excellent the quality of ingredients was, including standbys like this classic salad from Nice. The best version of Tuna Niçoise that I had when I traveled to France was loaded with fresh basil (I can never have too much basil) and fried capers, and those two simple twists were total game-changers. Taking a page from the brilliant folks at Serious Eats, I also smashed and fried the potatoes, and the result is a welcome update on this super classic salad that’s just as chic as it is delicious.

Tips To Make Tuna Niçoise Salad

Like we say time, and again around here, the quality of the ingredients will make or break this recipe. Here are tips to make it as flavorful and as effortlessly as possible: 

  • Tuna Packed In Olive Oil: The tuna is really the star of this salad, so you want it to be amazing. I suggest getting something phenomenal — say, like Ortiz Tuna Belly in Olive Oil — to make the most of it. 
  • French Olives: Yes, pretty much any delicious olives will be great in this salad, but I like going traditional and using the small black Niçoise olives. Grown on the “Le Cailletier” tree, these olives are meaty, a touch intense, and almost have a flavor like a big red wine. 
  • Soft-Boiled Eggs: I’m not going to tell you how to boil your eggs, but, personally, I’m partial to serving this salad with jammy soft-boiled eggs.
  • Super Fresh Tomatoes: This is one of those recipes where you want uber-flavorful, middle-of-summer tomatoes. If you can’t get those, go ahead and toss the tomatoes with salt and let them sit while you make the rest of the ingredients so you can bring out their best flavor. 
  • Salt-Packed Capers: Okay, you get it — top-quality ingredients are the name of the game here. But, of all the ingredients, I insist you try this salad with salt-packed capers at least once. This is not really traditional as capers are often preserved in vinegar in the south of France, but I’m not a fan because the caper flavor gets overtaken by the vinegar. Instead, look for salt-packed capers like these from Southern Italy and then soak them in water for 15 minutes (then rinse them off and dry them really well before frying them). You’ll be rewarded with capers that, well, actually taste flowery and herbaceous like capers should taste!
  • Make It Ahead! That was a lot of tips, but the top one of all is that you can actually make most of this salad ahead of time. Go ahead and mix the dressing, blanch the beans, boil the eggs and potatoes all up to 2 days ahead of time. Then all you have to do is fry the potatoes and capers before serving!

Go stock up on all your cooking essentials, then head into the kitchen, make this, and share it with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!

{Salade Niçoise} Salad with Smashed Potatoes and Fried Capers Recipe

{Salade Niçoise} Salad with Smashed Potatoes and Fried Capers Recipe

Inspired by my latest trip to Provence, here the classic Niçoise salad from Nice with the addition of tons of basil, super-high quality tuna, smashed potatoes, and fried capers. This {Salade Niçoise} Salad with Smashed Potatoes and Fried Capers recipe is my version of the real deal.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine French
Servings 6 servings
Calories 318 kcal


For The Anchovy Vinaigrette:

  • 1 small shallot minced
  • 1 small garlic clove grated
  • 1 anchovy fillet minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For The Nicoise Salad:

  • 8 ounces marble potatoes or other tiny potatoes
  • kosher salt
  • 8 ounces haricots vert
  • 2 hard-boiled large eggs peeled and quartered
  • 1 pint sweet 100s tomatoes or cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 (8.5 ounce) can oil-packed tuna
  • 1/3 cup olives
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 20 fresh basil leaves
  • 4 handfuls spicy mixed greens


  • Make The Anchovy Vinaigrette: Whisk together shallot, garlic, anchovies, and vinegar in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking. Add some salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Taste by dipping a lettuce leaf in the vinaigrette and adding more salt, pepper, or vinegar, as desired.
    Alternatively, process the vinaigrette in a blender for a smoother dressing.
    TIP: Vinaigrette can be made up to four days in advance. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and bring to room temperature before using.
  • Make The Smashed Potatoes: Cover potatoes with at least 2 inches of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to just barely below a simmer and cook until potatoes are easily pierced by a fork, about 15 minutes.
    Remove from heat, add a huge pinch of salt, let stand in the cooking water until cooled slightly. Drain potatoes. If using right away, allow to cool to room temperature, then gently crush them. 
    Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, then cook the potatoes until golden brown, about 5 minutes total. Set aside and salt.
    TIP: Potatoes can be made up to four days in advance. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and bring to room temperature before using.
  • Fry The Capers: Return the pan to heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat over medium heat until oil shimmers, add the capers and fry until just crisp, about 1 minute. Remove to a paper towel-line plate and set aside. 
    TIP: Capers can be made up to four days in advance. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and bring to room temperature before using.
  • Blanch The Haricots Verts: Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan with water and season generously with salt. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Working in small batches, cook beans until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath to chill. Drain beans and pat dry; beans can be refrigerated overnight at this point. 
    TIP: Beans can be made up to one day in advance. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and bring to room temperature before using.
  • Serve The Niçoise Salad; To serve the salad, arrange the greens, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, egg, olives, tuna, basil, and capers on a serving plate.
    Top with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of the dressing then serve, passing additional dressing along the side. 



Serving: 1servingCalories: 318kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 3gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 277mgPotassium: 489mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1059IUVitamin C: 37mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 2mg
Keyword classic french food
Tried this recipe?Mention @saltandwind or tag #swsociety!

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