End of the debate: discover the real recipe for Niçoise salad

A brief history of Nicoise salad

Originally, the recipe simply consisted of salted tomatoes, olive oil and anchovies. It was above all a poor man's dish, intended to use the fishermen's smallest catches. In the 19th centurye century, with the development of agriculture, we began to add other garden products such as spring onions, salad peppers, broad beans, etc. However, the Niçoise salad remained a recipe based on raw foods, so the egg was not yet present on the plates. We also notice the absence of tuna, considered a luxury dish at the time. It was therefore only much later that these two ingredients were added to create the recipe we know today.

Like many traditional recipes, “salada nissarda” has evolved. Having become a classic in the restaurant industry, it is now found in international cuisines without denying its origins.

Read: We found the authentic recipe for Caesar salad

A treasure of Nice heritage

If French gastronomy is a national pride, we are even more attached to our regional specialties. And it’s not the people of Nice who will tell you the opposite. The County of Nice in fact created its own label “Cuisine Nissarde, respect for tradition” in 1995. The Niçoise salad thus appears in a booklet with fourteen other recipes, such as ratatouille or pan bagna, deposited with the INPI *.

It is the Capelina d'or, an association in favor of the defense and transmission of the culinary traditions of Nice which was at the origin of the project. In collaboration with catering professionals and UDOTSI**, this label aims to promote authentic Nice cuisine. To benefit from it, restaurateurs must offer at least three of the recipes mentioned in the booklet on their menu. It is also indicated that the products used must be local and seasonal.

You will have understood, in Nice, local cuisine is a more than serious business. The Niçoise salad thus has its own rules, to be applied to the letter to honor tradition.

© Edouard Sicot

How to prepare an authentic Niçoise salad?

We would be tempted to believe that only the official recipe is valid. Make no mistake, there are as many versions as there are inhabitants in Nice. However, don't think that you can put whatever you want in it. To help you find your way, we've put together a list of the do's and don'ts of Niçoise salad.

Authorized ingredients for Niçoise salad

Tomato, anchovies and olive oil

These are the basic ingredients of the original recipe. Choose tomatoes that are not too ripe and still firm. You will then disgorge them in salt to prevent them from releasing too much juice. For anchovies, you can buy fillets in jars and use them whole. Finally, we will choose an extra virgin olive oil to season everything.

Broad beans, spring onions and purple artichoke

These vegetables are part of the modern version of Niçoise salad. Available in spring, they will bring freshness and crunch to your dish.

Salad pepper

And no, it's not the same as green pepper! You will recognize it by its large pepper shape and its mild flavor. We take care to remove its seeds and cut it into thin strips before adding them to the salad.

Nice olives

They are renowned for their crunchy flesh and exceptional flavor. Obviously, we choose them AOP because it is the only variety of olives tolerated in the recipe.

The hard-boiled egg

It is one of the last ingredients added to the Niçoise salad. In addition to providing color, it is a cheap source of protein.

Canned and natural tuna

It is often wrongly thought that it is the main ingredient of Nicoise salad. However, it was not until well after the original recipe was created that tuna was added. The rule therefore mentions using it only if you do not use anchovies.


Use only one clove to rub the plates and perfume them. Do not try to add whole or minced garlic to the salad, this could spoil the taste.

Salt, pepper and basil

To season at the end of the recipe. And we finish by adding a few basil leaves before serving.

The prohibitions of Nicoise salad


Once all your ingredients are gathered, there is no question of throwing them as is in a salad bowl! The Niçoise salad stands like a painting, directly on the plate. Play with shapes and colors to create an aesthetic and harmonious whole. It will only be better.

Potatoes and green beans

If we owe remarkable culinary innovations to Auguste Escoffier, there is one that the people of Nice would prefer to forget… The “king of cooks” in fact committed the sacrilege of adding potatoes and green beans to the Nicoise salad. However, the principle of this recipe is to only include raw foods.
Just at the mention of this infamy, we can hear teeth gnashing from Nice.

Rice, cheese, mayonnaise and company

Niçoise salad is a recipe made from local and economical products. Avoid adding ingredients that don't belong there, you risk distorting the balance of flavors and attracting enemies.

You now know what pitfalls to avoid when making Niçoise salad. Please note, however, that culinary freedom requires, some exceptions are allowed.

Tolerated variants of homemade Niçoise salad

Long radishes

These small radishes, cut into thin slices, can replace the spring onions in the original recipe. We find them more and more often in the list of ingredients.

The celery

In some versions, you can find a chopped celery heart. However, this is not essential.

The mesclun

This mixture of herbs and young shoots is often authorized, although here again opinions differ. Indeed, the mesclun being of Nice origin, it can find its place in this recipe without being necessary.

Wine vinegar

To bring a little acidity to your salad, it is possible to add a touch. On the other hand, balsamic vinegar and cider vinegar should be banned. They risk bringing too much sugar.

The cucumber

It was Jacques Médecin, former mayor of the city of Nice and author of the book “La Bonne cuisine du Comté de Nice” (Éditions Solar, 2003) who introduced cucumber into the recipe. Today, this addition still remains contested and creates endless debates among Nice families. Fans, however, should be careful to choose the southern variety, short and spiny like gherkins.

The Niçoise salad recipe

Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking time: 11 mins

For 4 people

  • 500 g shelled beans
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes .1/2 cucumber.
  • 2 peppered artichokes
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • a few pink radishes
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 small green salad pepper
  • 50 g of Nice black olives
  • 8 anchovy fillets in oil
  • olive oil
  • basil
  • salt pepper

Start by cooking your eggs for 11 minutes in boiling water. Once cooled, peel them then each egg into quarters.
Scald the broad beans.
Rinse the vegetables and slice the radishes, onions and salad pepper into thin slices.
Cut the tomatoes in half, cut the cucumber into cubes and the artichokes into strips.
Arrange everything on each plate and finish with the Niçoise olives and anchovy fillets (or tuna depending).
Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle small basil leaves on top before serving.

You now know how to make an authentic Niçoise salad that everyone will like.

* National Institute of Industrial Property
** Departmental Union of Tourist Offices and Tourist Offices of the Alpes-Maritimes (now dissolved)

Similar Posts