The first time I saw one of these French style “chef salads” was on a Julia Child cooking episode. She carefully arranged the ingredients into neat triangles and the final result was a lovely pinwheel of color, tastes and textures. The fact that the simple ingredients used in her Salad Nicoise were all exceptional quality made the final composition a work of art. Every ingredient from perfectly hard boiled eggs to the high quality canned tuna played an important part in this classic salad.
While the classic presentation for this salad is a formal arrangement of each ingredient, I find that a slightly less fussy arrangement is more practical for everyday mealtime. Use only the best quality of each ingredient for the most delicious result. It’s better to omit one or two of them items rather than use one that is of inferior quality or out of season. Just add a loaf of good crusty bread for a complete meal.
The list of ingredients for a classic Salad Nicoise will include most the following items:
Boston lettuce leaves, washed and dried
fresh young green beans, cooked until tender-crisp, chilled and dressed with vinaigrette
tomatoes, cut into wedges (or cherry tomatoes, halved)
thinly sliced shallot or mild red onion
boiling potatoes, peeled, sliced, cooked and cooled
canned highest quality solid white tuna in oil, drained
perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
flat anchovy fillets
small black Nicoise-type olives
minced fresh parsley
1 cup basic vinaigrette
salt and peppr to taste
On a large serving platter or salad bowl arrange all of the ingredients neatly in the order listed. Drizzle with vinaigrette right before serving.