Summer is here, and it’s the perfect time for outdoor entertaining with friends and family. Welcome and impress your guests with this delicious and healthy Niçoise salad. The vegetables are arranged on a bed of lettuce, making for an elegant presentation. Adding fish, new potatoes, and a little boiled egg makes it substantial enough for a main dish. It takes a bit more time to prepare and has a few more ingredients than some of our recipes, but it’s worth it.
Niçoise salad (from the city of Nice, on the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France), is also an excellent example of the Mediterranean Diet. Although this way of eating—indeed, this way of life—has been enjoyed for centuries, research “caught up” and started to shed light on its many benefits only in the past 50 years. The diet emphasizes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats from extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) and nuts, along with moderate portions of dairy and fish. Benefits include a lower risk of many types of cancer (including prostate cancer) and of death from cancer, as well as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
With an array of colorful vegetables, relatively smaller portions of meaty fish, and EVOO, this salad fits the bill. The fat in the dressing (use EVOO!) will help you absorb the vitamins in the veggies. Drizzle lightly to avoid drowning your salad.
If you’ve got the grill going, you can grill the fish instead of pan-searing and finishing in the oven. There are other ways to modify this recipe according to your preferences. Choose a fish you like, or whatever is freshest and accessible. If you can’t get fresh fish, you can use canned tuna or salmon. Aiming to minimize sodium? Choose no-salt-added canned fish—and reduce the amount of olives, as they are also high in sodium. Finally, if your doctor has advised you to avoid egg yolks, you can use just the whites. Here, eggs are a garnish, not the main event.
Niçoise Salad with Fresh Fish
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
- 1 lb baby new potatoes or fingerling potatoes
- 1 ½ lbs wax beans or thin green beans, blanched
- 1 lb cherry or pear tomatoes
- 1 lb roasted red or yellow peppers, medium diced
- 4 oz baby lettuce leaves
- ½ cup pitted niçoise olives or small black olives
- 2 lbs fresh tuna, salmon, or other meaty fish
- 2 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 1 Tbsp shallots, chopped
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 hard- or soft-boiled eggs, quartered lengthwise
- To taste – sea salt and black pepper
- balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette dressing
- Combine 1 Tbsp olive oil, shallot, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Pour over fish and allow to marinate in the refrigerator.
- Wash potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Coat with 1 Tbsp olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper.
- Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until soft and golden, tossing a couple of times (about 30 minutes total).
- Place fish in an oven-safe sauté pan and sear on both sides. Finish cooking in a 350 degree oven.
- Place lettuce on a large serving plate; arrange potatoes, green beans, roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes in various sections on plate to make a nice presentation.
- Place egg quarters around lettuce to look like a star.
- Place fish in center, sprinkle with olives, and drizzle with a good-quality balsamic vinegar or your favorite vinaigrette dressing.