I know, it seems cliche but the first time I ever had Salade Niçoise was in the port of Nice. I was in high school on my first trip to France and was just swooning over everything I had. Adding tuna and egg to my salad seemed adult to me so I went for it. Truth is, it wasn't a very good example of this classic French salad. Suffice it to say, it was underwhelming. And that's way too often the case with this salad.
But, on my trip to Provence, I was blown away by how excellent the food was, including standbys like this classic salad from Nice. The version I liked most had loads of basil (I can never have too much basil) and fried capers so I have been recerating it ever since I got back. Taking a page from the very smart kids at Serious Eats, I also smashed and fried the potatoes and the result is this super classic salad that's just as chic as it is delicious.
peeled and quartered
For the 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.
Vinaigrette will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
For the Salad: Cover potatoes with at least 2 inches of water in a large saucepan and bring to a oil. 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 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. Return pan to heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat over medium heat until oil shimmers then add the capers and fry until just crisp, about1 minute. Remove to a paper towel-line plate and set aside.
Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan with water and season generously with salt. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring saucepan of water to a boil. Working in small batches, cook beans until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to ice bath to chill. Drain beans and pat dry; beans can be refrigerated overnight at this point.
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.
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