A perfectly colourful and totally delicious homemade Tuna Niçoise Salad made with fresh tuna, fresh anchovies and sumptuously soft-in-the-middle hard-boiled eggs. Gluten Free; Dairy Free.
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Searching for the Perfect Tuna Niçoise Salad
Tuna Niçoise Salad is an absolute favourite here. It’s fresh, vibrant, nutritious, beautiful and utterly delicious. But finding a recipe that ticked all the boxes for perfection was tricky.
Okay… maybe I’m being a little ‘forward’. But this Tuna Niçoise is the recipe that I was searching for. Actually, it’s a recipe that has been on the blog for a few years. But, it’s so lovely, that it’s also one that has turned heads and won hearts.
What is Tuna Niçoise Salad?
Tuna Niçoise Salad apparently originates in Nice in southern France. Much revered by renowned chefs and foodies, the Tuna Niçoise is traditionally made using tuna fish, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes and Niçoise olives. Various combinations of leafy salad, vegetables and potatoes are also generally added, varying from recipe to recipe.
As the name would suggest, the Niçoise olive (small and black) is considered key to the original recipe. However, many recipes don’t specify the type of olive required and as they appear to be quite difficult to source, it is necessary to make do with an alternative… mostly!
Tinned Tuna or Fresh for a Tuna Niçoise Salad?
One of my absolute bugbears when it comes to a Niçoise salad, is that the tuna must be fresh. It’s not that I have anything against tinned tuna, but when it comes to a Niçoise, it can make the difference between average and amazing. If it is not something you’ve tried, please believe that it is seriously nothing like canned tuna. And it has significantly better nutrition too!
If you’re thinking ‘but fresh tuna is really expensive’… actually it’s really not. I wrote previously on the virtues of fresh tuna vs tinned tuna, and when it comes to cost, there really isn’t that much in it.
How to cook tuna for Niçoise Salad
If fresh tuna is not something that you usually buy, you may be unsure about how to cook it. Don’t worry. It’s not difficult to cook tuna steak well.
The best way to cook it for a niçoise salad is quick-seared as a whole steak on a griddle pan. It is then cut into chunks (or left whole) to be popped on top of the salad… The star of the show.
Find advice on how to cook grilled/griddled tuna steak, in my post on Grilled Tuna Steak.
As with the tuna, the choice of anchovies will make a big difference to the experience of eating the final salad.
Confession time… there are only a handful of foods that I hate… At the top of the list are baked beans and tinned anchovies. I honestly hate everything about them. When it comes to anchovies, the tinned variety is (for me) over-salty, and of an almost inedible spiky bony texture. If you love them, that’s fine… But for this Tuna Niçoise Salad, I have chosen to use fresh anchovy fillets (which have already been cooked).
Discovering fresh marinated anchovies was a revelation. They are that different to the tinned ones, it is hard to believe they are the same fish. If you have never tried them, give them a go… You can find them in many good supermarkets, often alongside the chilled olives, etc. They have a meaty texture, with a unique fishy flavour (which is not over-salted). And… they have had the bones removed.
The base of the Tuna Niçoise Salad
Just as Tina Niçoise recipes vary on the type and quality of the fish, so do they vary on the base of the salad. Many recipes use lettuce and green leaves. But I prefer a bed of crisp sautéed greed beans and warm new potatoes, alongside juicy sweet cherry tomatoes, Mediterranean olives and a little iron-rich parsley.
Add to this a sumptuous dressing of light olive oil and good-quality balsamic vinegar with a little seasoning and you have yourself a perfect salad… Almost!
The final essential ingredient of a Tuna Niçoise Salad is hard-boiled eggs. Not only do they pair perfectly with the meaty tuna and tangy anchovies, but they look absolutely stunning with their bright yellow yolks next to white coats.
But how the hard-boiled eggs are cooked matters… The aim is a firm white, encasing a rich still slightly soft and sticky yolk. And for this, you need to get the timing right. For a UK-large egg (which I believe is equivalent to a US very large or extra large), the boiling time is about 8 minutes, before being plunged into cold water to cool. But whatever the size of your egg, you need to pitch the cooking time at fractionally less than the standard time for a fully hard-boiled egg.
When to eat a Niçoise Salad
Tuna Niçoise Salad is definitely a meal in itself and not a dish on the side. It is nutritionally balanced and the amazing levels of protein from the fish and eggs ensure you feel full for hours.
Although salad can often be seen as a summer dish, Tuna Niçoise is delightful at any time of the year. It is perfect served still warm… Or if you prefer it colder, simply let the potatoes, beans and eggs cool before plating. I personally prefer the tuna served freshly cooked and warm whatever.
Ready to make Tuna Niçoise Salad?
So, this is my take on the Tuna Niçoise Salad… I hope you love it too. Don’t forget to let me know if you make it… leave a comment or tag me on social media, whether Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. And use the hashtag #glutenfreealchemist on social media so that I can find you.
And if you haven’t found our Gluten Free Recipe Book Index yet, why not pop over and have a look…
Other delicious salad recipes on Gluten Free Alchemist
Tuna Niçoise Salad
- large saucepan
- griddle or flat-bottomed skillet
- sharp vegetable knife
- chopping board
- large salad bowl
- 500 g new/baby potatoes halved
- 350 g green French beans trimmed
- 3 large tuna steaks (or one per person dependent on size)
- 2 to 3 large eggs UK large/US extra large
- 220 g cherry tomatoes halved
- 10 to 15 olives black, green and/or brown (or Niçoise olives if you can source them)
- 1 to 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar the best you can afford
- 8 fresh anchovy fillets marinated fillets, not canned/tinned
- sea salt
- black pepper freshly ground
- olive oil for frying
- Ahead of time, pre-boil your potatoes (for 10 to 15 minutes dependent on size) and cook your trimmed green beans (for 3 to 5 minutes, dependent on thickness) with a sprinkle of salt added.
- Drain well and set aside until ready to make the salad.
- When ready, sauté the beans and potatoes in a large skillet using a little olive oil, over a medium to high heat, turning occasionally until the potatoes are golden. Set aside.
- Gently pan-fry the tuna steaks whole with a little olive oil and seasoning over a medium to high heat for about 1 minute each side (dependent on how 'rare' you want them, but ensuring they are fully sealed by the heat), then remove from the pan and allow to rest for a few minutes.
- Hard-boil your eggs in their shells for about 8 minutes (for UK large/US extra large eggs), then plunge into cold water to cool.
- While the eggs are boiling, put your halved cherry tomatoes, olives and parsley into a large salad bowl.
- Add the cooked beans and potatoes.
- Pour the olive oil and balsamic vinegar into the bowl and give a good grind of black pepper and a little sprinkle of sea salt to the mix.
- Cut your cooked tuna into large cubes and add to the bowl.
- Toss all the ingredients in the bowl well, to mix and coat with oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Arrange the fresh anchovy fillets on the top.
- Carefully peel the shells from the boiled eggs and cut in half (lengthways) with a sharp knife. Arrange on top of the salad.
- Give an extra fresh grind of black pepper and serve.
© 2019-2022 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist