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Posted by on in Food & Drink

Salade Niçoise, Nice Salad

Salade niçoise is probably the most well-known dish to come from Nice; it is served in restaurants around the world and means quite literally Nice salad (note the capital N, salad from Nice rather than nice salad, but it is indeed that too).

salade niçoise in restaurant

It is a mixed salad composed of tomatoes, sweet green peppers (long thin salad peppers not the green equivalent of a red pepper), artichokes (in season), young broad beans (in season), cucumber, radish, spring onions, black olives (from Nice), hard boiled eggs, garlic (only to rub the dish with), anchovy filets or tuna, basil leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper.  What it doesn’t contain is any cooked vegetables such as potatoes and green beans.  Nor should it include salad leaves.

The olives should be whole with the stone left in and ideally be the little black ones from Nice itself.  Purists will say that you should only have one form of protein: anchovies, tuna or eggs but most chefs now serve it with at least two; eggs and one of the fishes.  It should not be served with vinaigrette, just a drizzle of olive oil.  Cucumber and radish are optional and according to taste, some people also add celery.  Everything should really be in season but I specified “in season” for the artichokes and broad beans because their season is much shorter than the other ingredients.  They shouldn’t be used in late summer.

vegetables in a Provencal market

Having said all that, salade niçoise, being simply salad from Nice, comes in many variations of the above as it is not subject to the strict control of an AOC and its origins are little known.  Apparently when it was first “invented” it was just referred to as "salad" because for local niçois people there was clearly no need to brand their salad as “from Nice” as that was kind of stating the obvious when they were in Nice.  They were simply throwing together a few basic seasonal veggies, readily and cheaply available in the market or vegetable garden, which meant there were as many variations as there were families making it, with no formal recipe only oral traditions.  It was only when the Riviera developed and restaurants, rather than ordinary families, started serving the salad that it needed a name.  However, there is a strict unwritten code that native niçois understand and strangers don’t: not everything goes; you can’t just add any local product.  Niçois can feel very passionate about this.

basil

There are two main schools of thought about this humble salad, which really did start out humble – originally it contained only tomatoes, anchovies and olive oil.   As life became less difficult in the county of Nice more ingredients were added.  More about the historic paucity of Nice’s gastronomy can be read in my review of Nice food tour A Taste of Nice here.   But back to the two schools of thought – 2 people who couldn’t be more different encapsulate two different ideas of what makes the perfect salade niçoise, firstly the esteemed chef Escoffier and secondly former mayor of Nice Jean Médecin. Escoffier, NOT a niçois, added cooked potatoes and green beans. As unlikely as it might seem the former mayor of Nice penned a recipe book of his grandmother’s traditional recipes and true niçois believe his take on the salad is the “right” one; definitely no cooked vegetables.   As an adopted niçoise I like to think this version is right, but honestly I’m not a purist and when we make it at home we throw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that (though never potatoes).  The photo below is one JF made with pine nuts, green olives and salad leaves.  Very inauthentic!   

salade niçoise homemade

How do you like your salade niçoise?  Do you like to include potatoes or are you a purist?

 

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salade niçoise salad from Nice France

 

 

Lou Messugo
 
 
 
 
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Comments

  • Guest
    Ting at MTM mardi, 08 novembre 2016

    I'm so sorry for the lateness of me getting round to commenting! I have been so ill and way behind! Hope you are having the most fabulous time in Vietnam. I love a nicoise salad - I actually have Escoffier's bible but have yet to try and make anything from it! #AllAboutFrance

  • Guest
    Kimberly mardi, 18 octobre 2016

    I had no idea the history or the rules to this salad.
    I haven't had it with potatoes but I bet I'd like it. :)
    I love the history of the name.
    Very interesting post!

  • Guest
    Jill mardi, 11 octobre 2016

    That is some entirely-too-gorgeous stuff. It makes me want a huge canvas picture of brightly colored produce in my home.... just makes me smile!

    Thank you for hosting and bringing us such great content. I enjoy All About France!

  • Guest
    Curtis Bausse mardi, 11 octobre 2016

    A regular staple of ours - so much so that when we were travelling in Vietnam, our 11 year old son would while away the hours on bus rides inventing variations on it. Like all salads, it can be flexible, but I guess there would come a point where it could no longer be called niçoise.

  • Guest
    Phoebe mardi, 11 octobre 2016

    Funny that you manage to bring in Vietnam to this post, thereby commenting on both this and my news that I'm off to VN in one fell swoop! When were you in VN inventing salad recipes Curtis? I agree that salads can be adapted but have to have a base of accepted ingredients or else it can't be called a niçoise....

  • FalcondaleJan
    FalcondaleJan lundi, 10 octobre 2016

    This is so colourful and attractive. Normally I would steer clear of broad beans but I'd try this in a heartbeat. I laughed at "garlic - only to rub the dish with" because I would just never think of that! The strictness of the rules about the ingredients speaks to me of the eternal French desire to preserve culture. Not surprised about that at all.

  • Guest
    Phoebe lundi, 10 octobre 2016

    Thanks Janet, I love the "rules" for this reason too.

  • Guest
    Cal at Family Makes lundi, 10 octobre 2016

    It is such a beautiful and colourful salad full of fresh ingredients. I must admit I don't usually eat it as I don't like eggs, but as you have made it look so tempting, perhaps I should try it and just remove the egg part? #AllAboutFrance

  • Guest
    Phoebe lundi, 10 octobre 2016

    Yes, just leave out the eggs, give it a go!

  • Guest
    Christy Swagerty dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Fun post, Phoebe! I usually steer clear of the Nicoise salad because I'm not a huge fan of tuna, and the ones in Paris seem to always include it! But I love hearing about its origins and I always enjoy seeing it on menus outside of France! Thank you for the link-up! :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe lundi, 10 octobre 2016

    They always include tuna nowadays; the idea of only one protein doesn't hold anymore. Pity you don't like tuna :-(

  • Guest
    Christine @afamilyday dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    As a veggie I'm afraid my version wouldn't be the authentic thing! I'd happily enjoy the salad apart from the anchovies/tuna although I must admit I'm struggling to think if I've ever actually eaten one! #allaboutfrance

  • Guest
    Phoebe lundi, 10 octobre 2016

    I think it might be a bit odd without either tuna or anchovies, but you'll still have the egg so it would still officially be an authentic niçoise salad! ;)

  • Guest
    Holly dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Looks delicious !

  • Guest
    Phoebe lundi, 10 octobre 2016

    It is, Holly!

  • Guest
    Girl Gone Gallic samedi, 08 octobre 2016

    My French mother, NOT from Nice, always added potatoes and green beans - so that's how I usually make it. Although, I will get creative as well... Rules are made to be broken - right???

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Exactly, she added those ingredients because she's not from Nice! An Escoffier follower. But of course rules are made to be broken.

  • Guest
    ema samedi, 08 octobre 2016

    One of my favourites - just so simple and delicious. Bon appetit! :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    I totally agree, bon app!

  • Guest
    sally samedi, 08 octobre 2016

    I would love to have a salad nicoise with products fresh from the garden, and with anchovies. Probably egg & potato as well. Yum, yum - making me hungry. Must find someone who actually has a vegetable garden ...

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    If you're looking for that veggie garden in Dubai you might be looking for sometime yet! Wait till you get back to France for the authentic experience!

  • Guest
    Kerri samedi, 08 octobre 2016

    Whilst I might be happy to add the odd ingredient in here or there I absolutely love always knowing about the origins for food first, then trying to recreate it exactly the same way. Once I understand the true flavours and get that right, then I'm prepared to change it a little if it needs it. Loved learning about the origins of this salad. Enjoy your trip to Vietnam - our paths may cross :) Heading there myself on the 27th !

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    I agree Kerri, I adapt all the time but I like to know the origins and thinking behind something. Where are you going in VN?

  • Guest
    Julie vendredi, 07 octobre 2016

    I'm certainly not a purist and love potatoes in mine, tuna or anchovies .....but there's nothing worse than a salad that comes with dull green, soggy, almost slimy beans that have obviously come from a can - I always regret ordering a Salade Nicoise if these appear and usually vow not to return to the place that served it!

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Oh yes, I'm with you there, tinned beans are gross but I really doubt you'd get a salade niçoise in the Nice area with tinned beans...I certainly have never seen them used. Urgh!

  • Lyn - A Hole in my Shoe
    Lyn - A Hole in my Shoe vendredi, 07 octobre 2016

    I am happy to add the potatoes but don't like the anchovies. I am not a purist and love adding something for variety or substituting for something I don't have from the original recipe.

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    I agree, though if too many things get added then it can't really be called a salade niçoise really can it?

  • Guest
    Elizabeth (wander mum) jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    Great post Phoebe- you have certainly opened my eyes. I don't mind potatoes in my salad Nicose...not so keen on anchovies buy I do love it. A great mix of protein and veg ! #allaboutfrance

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    I like anchovies, but luckily for people who don't like them they're always posed on the top and easy enough to pick off, not mixed in.

  • Guest
    Pauline L jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    I had no idea the original salad had no green beans, or potatoes, or lettuce! I have been doing it wrong for YEARS; mind you, it's not going to stop me for carrying on as before :p

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Not wrong, just not the recipe considered by locals the most authentic!

  • Guest
    Marina - Imaginibus jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    This looks so good!!! Potatoes sound good to me :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Another potato fan!

  • Guest
    Vanessa jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    I love salade Niçoise when it's made with anchovies. Unfortunately, tuna doesn't agree with me and gives me migraine. So I always have to be extra careful with anything that calls itself a salade Niçoise. I really like the original version with just tomatoes, anchovies and olive oil. A real taste of the sun!

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    I've never seen a salade niçoise taken back to its roots served without tuna, somehow that would be really missing the point for me as I love tuna! But if it gives you a migraine I can understand that this wouldn't be the easiest salad for you to eat in a restaurant.

  • Guest
    Richard jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    Phoeve -- this opened my eyes. Like some of your other readers, I've had variations of the Salade Nicoise that added ingredients above and beyond the "classics" you mentioned here -- but I think your version with tuna sounds like the best! (And the photos are beautiful, too.)

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Thanks Richard!

  • Guest
    Arnie Jacobsen jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    I'm afraid that I have to admit that I like it with potatoes.

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    That's OK Arnie, I'l forgive you!

  • Guest
    Liene jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    It's funny how all the things I hated on pizza in Clermont, I love on my salad... olives, tuna, potatoes! Ha!

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    That is funny, though I can understand not liking potatoes on pizza, they shouldn't be there!

  • Guest
    Ashley jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    I was just in the States for holiday and I never ordered a salad on the menu at a restaurant. This is because after getting used to amazing salads in French restaurants- I knew I would be disappointed. My trick for delicious salad is treating it like any other dish; I put the same time and effort into it as would anything else. Yum.

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Interesting that you think American salads wouldn't live up to the French standard, somehow I'd imagined they'd be great (and copious!)

  • Guest
    Becky Brown jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    I love a good salad but have to admit I'm not a huge fan of tuna. I've had some salads here in France that have been sooooo huge! We got into salads this year in a big way but I still have yet to master dressings!

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Salads can be enormous in France I agree. I love experimenting with dressings.

  • Guest
    Margaretha jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    We have our own version: Salade Gersçoise! with guess what? Duck, of course.

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Now that sounds pretty tasty!

  • Guest
    Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me) jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    How interesting - I never knew that potatoes were a no-no! I'd always added salsd potatoes to mine. I do love salade nicoise though. Your pictures aer making my mouth water (even the inauthentic one!) :-)

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    potatoes are only considered a no no by some, and not by the esteemed chef Escoffier. You're in good hands after all Nell!

  • Guest
    Margo Lestz jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    I remember when the recipe for the Salade Niçoise with potatoes came out. There was quite an uproar in Nice, with many people voicing their opinion in the newspaper. Everyone seemed to have their own ideas - but none of them included potatoes! It was interesting to see how passionate people were about their salads. I like a bit of everything in mine, but I'm just an adopted Niçoise. :-)

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    I love how passionate French can get over a recipe!

  • Guest
    Carolyne jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    Phoebe this is one of my favourite salades composé, but I had no idea there were so many variations on the original version. I personal prefer mine without potatoes :-)

  • Guest
    Phoebe dimanche, 09 octobre 2016

    Me too and so do I Carolyne :)

  • Guest
    Emily jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    Thank you for this - I was totally ignorant of the issues surrounding this salad, which is one I thought I had been eating for years... but perhaps not...
    I am not sure I would even recognise a sweet green salad pepper if one bumped into me in the street. Can you explain what they are?
    And what is your take on fresh tuna fish.
    Right - off to the market to begin experimentation.

  • Guest
    Phoebe jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    You'll see them in the photo of seasonal veg from the market above. They look almost more like big chilli peppers. I love it with fresh tuna but it's a big extravagance and not necessary for everyday, tinned is perfectly yummy I reckon. What about you?

  • Guest
    Emily jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    Thank you! What are they called in French? We usually use tinned tuna, though I have still not found a brand I like in France (weird the things you miss...!)

  • Guest
    Phoebe jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    poivrons salade! That is an odd thing to miss...I can't say I've noticed much difference in tuna brands from here or UK but then I probably don't know English tuna very well...what have I been missing?

  • Guest
    Harriet Springbett jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    JF's salad looks delicious - all the more so because I now know the history of salad niçoise. I'll be checking up next time I order one from a restaurant! We're also still eating salad - though that's mostly because each time I suggest soup made from our weekly organic 'panier bio' there are cries of protest from the kids. Thanks for continuing with the linky - and I hope you have a fab time in Hanoi.

  • Guest
    Phoebe jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    Thanks Harriet, funnily enough my kids aren't great salad eaters, they prefer soup!

  • Guest
    Karen Langridge mercredi, 05 octobre 2016

    I could so eat that for my lunch :) it looks so appealing and filling with tuna and eggs x

  • Guest
    Phoebe jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    It is a great lunch dish Karen, I highly recommend it.

  • Janelle - Distant Francophile
    Janelle - Distant Francophile mardi, 04 octobre 2016

    I've always used potatoes - I'm guessing the Escoffier version is more well known in Australia. But I'll definitely try it without potatoes...they always seemed a bit out of place anyhow. Thanks for expanding my salad horizons!!

  • Guest
    Phoebe jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

    Each to her own Janelle, to potato or not to potato, that is the question! Escoffier lived just down the road from where I live but he wasn't a native niçois, making all the difference!

  • Guest
    ben mardi, 04 octobre 2016

    I could have salade niçoise every day, just love it; together with champagne!!

  • Guest
    Phoebe mardi, 04 octobre 2016

    I like your thinking Ben!

  • Guest
    Notmyyearoff lundi, 03 octobre 2016

    I had no idea it came from Nice but it's one of the best salads ever isn't it? I used to get them every time I stayed in a hotel and compare. I like that they're so passionate about it being a certain way!

  • Guest
    Phoebe mardi, 04 octobre 2016

    It really is a great salad, I agree with you. "Niçoise" is the adjective "from Nice" so to a French speaker it's clear where this salad comes from but if you don't speak French there's no reason to know what it means.

  • Guest
    Anne mercredi, 28 septembre 2016

    I've not had a salad nicoise before. I like tuna but I'd have to skip the anchovies.

  • Guest
    Phoebe mardi, 04 octobre 2016

    Easily done, they are so small you can just pick the off, or if making it yourself just leave them out.

  • Guest
    Sonia mercredi, 28 septembre 2016

    I love tuna so this looks really delicious to me x

  • Guest
    Phoebe mardi, 04 octobre 2016

    I recommend you give it a go Sonia, I'm sure you'll love it.

  • Guest
    Kara mercredi, 28 septembre 2016

    It looks delicious but sadly I am not a tuna fan

  • Guest
    Phoebe mardi, 04 octobre 2016

    I guess you could have a purist's version with egg only but I think everyone nowadays would agree that without tuna it isn't really a niçoise.

  • Guest
    Nikki Thomas mardi, 27 septembre 2016

    No I think I would prefer potatoes. I love a Salade Niçoise, it is such a delicious salad and I have eaten some delicious ones in France when I lived there. I have never made one but might be inspired to have a go now.

  • Guest
    Phoebe mardi, 04 octobre 2016

    So you're a fan of the Escoffier version! I must say I've never seen salade niçoise with potatoes in France even though the great chef said it was ok!

  • Guest
    Jen mardi, 27 septembre 2016

    I really do not like tuna. I know I am odd and have tried time and time again, but alas it isn't for me. The boys both loved Salade Niçoise when we were in France earlier in the year

  • Guest
    Phoebe mardi, 04 octobre 2016

    Tuna has a very strong taste, I don't think you're odd Jen, but I LOVE it! Glad your boys enjoyed it.

  • Guest
    Catherine lundi, 26 septembre 2016

    Yes it must be an anglicised version to put beans in the salad, I always do. Can you eat raw artichokes?

  • Guest
    Phoebe mardi, 04 octobre 2016

    Not only anglicised but Escoffier's version and he's as French as you can get. I guess you can eat the tender small hearts of very young purple artichokes, the little ones, not the big ones. However, despite this being the recognised "true" version I've never seen artichoke in a salade niçoise!

  • Guest
    Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault dimanche, 25 septembre 2016

    Interesting. All the times I have eaten Salade Niçoise in England or on Brittany Ferries (it is the best of the otherwise rather poor bad culinary options in the self service restaurant) it has contained a small amount of salad leaves and green beans with all 3 protein types plus black olives and peppers (but never potatoes and certainly not pine nuts ;) ) ... it seems I have been eating an Anglicised version of this classic Nice dish!

  • Guest
    Phoebe lundi, 26 septembre 2016

    The pine nuts are just something JF threw in at home Rosie, I've never seen them in a salade niçoise anywhere else. It's about time you came south and experienced one in situ I reckon!

  • Guest
    Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault lundi, 10 octobre 2016

    One day!!

  • Guest
    annette charlton samedi, 24 septembre 2016

    I just love this post. I have only returned from visiting my holiday home in Brittany where we built a garage this trip with help from visiting friends. Our neighbour who farms an allottment gave us lots of french green beans, and guess what we made. Yes, Salade Niçose. I had never made it before but thought it perfect to use the lovely fresh beans and to feed all the hungry workers. Well, it disappeared very quickly and was on the menu again the following evening. Yum!

  • Guest
    Phoebe lundi, 26 septembre 2016

    I bet it was delicious with such fresh produce Annette.

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