Potato salad Nicoise is a wonderful French salad which we love here. In this salad, creamy potatoes are combined with tender green beans and ripe tomatoes. They are then topped with black olives and thinly sliced basil before being tossed with an anchovy-spiked lemony dressing.
I know salad Nicoise is usually presented as a composed salad with every vegetable in its place and the dressing kept on the side. That is a very nice way to serve it, and I would never tell you not to set it out that way if it makes you happy. However, there is something to be said for letting the dressing soak into the ingredients and for everything to be tossed together right from the start.
For one thing, it’s just easier. 🙂
A tossed salad is less fussy to prepare and less fussy to eat. You can present it in a big bowl with salad tongs and everyone can scoop out what they want with no extra work on either side.
For another, I think it tastes better.
Should I duck? ? I really like giving the dressing a chance to soak in and be absorbed by the potatoes while they are warm. Well salted water and a chance to absorb the dressing gives so much flavor in each bite! Tossed salad Nicoise is the way to go as far as I’m concerned.
The only tough part about making salad Nicoise is waiting until you can find fresh green beans!
Those woody green beans you find in the supermarket over the winter as so awful I can’t bring myself to buy them. At best we can say they are green bean shaped and colored without any of the flavor. I know occasionally there are decent ones, but you can’t plan on it. Even the French green beans in those little bags (do you have those too?) can be hit or miss. *sigh*
However, it’s summer right now! And the green beans are out! 🙂 It’s time to stop by your local farmstand, pick up some green beans, some local potatoes, and maybe even a few local cherry tomatoes.
Once you have all those great, flavorful ingredients in hand, give your mayonnaise-based potato salad a rest, don’t worry about being fussy, and make potato salad Nicoise instead. It tastes like summer and you can have it with fish (its usual companion) or any sort of grilled meat or go very vegetable forward and have it with a gratin or a cold soup.
Note: you will not be having a vegetarian meal unless you omit the anchovies from the dressing, but another vegetable dish would make your dinner very meat-light. Further note: if you are serving this to vegetarians or vegans, do omit the anchovies!
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
- 1 lb yellow potatoes, cut into 1" dice
- 1 lb thin green beans, or a mix of green and yellow beans
- 4 small tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup black olives, kalamata or nicoise
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp capers
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 small shallot, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp anchovy paste , or finely minced whole anchovies
- Bring the potatoes to a boil in a pot of generously salted water. Cook the potatoes until they are tender and can be easily pierced with a skewer, about 12 minutes from they start boiling. Drain and let cool until they are warm.
- While the potatoes are cooking, bring a second pot of salted water to a boil and cook the green beans for 4-5 minutes, or until tender. Drain the beans and plunge them in cold water. Once they are cool, cut the beans into 1-2 inch lengths and add them to the bowl with the potatoes.
- Mix together the dressing and toss it with the warm potatoes and beans. Let cool to room temperature. Then add the tomatoes, olives, basil, and caper. Toss to combine and serve.
- I get the water for the beans and the potatoes going at the same time on the stove and do the rest of the chopping (tomatoes and basil) and make the dressing while they cook.
- Nicoise olives are hard to come by where I am, so I use Kalamatas instead, and I like pitted olives since I find it's easier to eat the salad if you aren't worried about olive pits.