Salade Nicoise Just Right for a Summer Day

One of my favorite summer dishes is my version of Salade Nicoise, the French salad made with tuna, eggs, tomatoes, potatoes and green beans. It doesn’t require much cooking, it’s served cold, and most importantly, everyone in our family likes it.

The French original is a composed salad, with the various components kept more separate. Mine is a bit more of a mishmash, with potato salad sitting atop greens and tuna salad atop that. I generally make my own vinaigrette, flavored with a bit of garlic and mustard, but a good bottled vinaigrette or Caesar-style dressing would work just fine.

It is a bit of work to prepare all the ingredients, but you can prepare them in advance and assemble the salad just before serving. The recipe traditionally calls for canned tuna, but for a really nice flavor, you can substitute grilled fresh tuna, cut into chunks.

Salade Nicoise
Recipe Type: Main Course, Salad
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 4 medium boiling potatoes (about 1 pound total)
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 handfuls torn lettuce or mixed greens (optional)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 to 12 black olives (preferably Nicoise style)
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans tuna packed in water, drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vinaigrette (homemade or bottled)
  • Parsley and/or capers for garnish
  1. Place the potatoes in a pan with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or just until they can be pierced easily with a fork. Rinse under cold water. When cool, peel potatoes and cut into chunks or slices. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook green beans in boiling water until tender-crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. Rinse under cold water, drain and set aside.
  3. Just before serving, assemble salad: Make a bed of the lettuce or greens on a large platter. Top with green beans, arranged end to end around the edges of the lettuce. Arrange tomato wedges, eggs and olives decoratively around edge of platter. Toss the potatoes with vinaigrette, salt and pepper to taste. Mound in the middle of the platter. Moisten the tuna with a little of the vinaigrette and mound it on top of the potatoes. Scatter chopped parsley or capers over salad. Serve immediately.

Cobb Salad: A Meal in a Salad Bowl

Much to my delight, I realized today that I have the makings of a Cobb Salad on hand. This hearty mix of lettuce, eggs, bacon, avocados, tomatoes and blue cheese is my favorite salad meal. It seems to have fallen out of favor during the 1990s low-fat craze, but recently I’ve noticed it on more restaurant menus, sometimes generically labeled as “chopped salad.”

Cobb salad is named for Bob Cobb, who was owner of Hollywood’s legendary Brown Derby Restaurant in the 1930s. Legend has it that he invented the salad one night in 1937 out of leftovers he rummaged from the kitchen. Or maybe he invented it in 1929. Or maybe his chef really invented it. Whatever the case, it quickly caught on.

Some restaurants serve Cobb Salad with blue cheese or ranch dressing, but I consider that overkill. The blue cheese should be lightly crumbled into the salad, which is dressed with a vinaigrette. Cobb Salad does require that you plan ahead; the bacon, eggs and chicken need to be cooked and cooled before you toss the salad together.

Whisk together your own vinaigrette out of white wine vinegar, olive oil and a bit of dry mustard, or use your favorite store-bought vinaigrette.

Serve this with a little Italian or French bread and some iced tea and you’ve got a simple, satisfying dinner.

Cobb Salad

Makes 2 servings

2 strips crisp-cooked bacon
2 hard-cooked (boiled) eggs
1 medium avocado
1 medium tomato
1/2 medium head iceberg lettuce
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup chopped celery or 1/4 cup chopped green onions (optional)
1 cup diced chicken or turkey breast (boneless and skinless), optional
Vinaigrette (homemade or store-bought)

Crumble the bacon. Coarsely chop the eggs. Peel and pit the avocado, then coarsely chop. Chop and seed the tomato.

Tear or chop the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Divide between 2 dinner plates. Sprinkle the bacon, eggs, avocado, tomato, blue cheese,  celery and chicken over the lettuce and toss. Add vinaigrette to taste and toss again.

Serve immediately.