Summer is Coming: Be Nice to Yourself with a Salade Niçoise!

A plate of food on a table

Spring is all around, flowers are budding, birds are chirping and you’re…  scared and full of regrets. Why, why why,  did you have a second serving of hachis parmentier that one time at the Duponds? Can you really drop 50 pounds a day on just water with a tablespoon of water and an H2O mist for the next 45 days?

Or should you invest in a new body with no fat in it but 100% non-recyclable plastic?


Diets don’t work: they make you fat.
And plastic surgery is … plastic surgery.

You know better. This summer, you’re going to be French and Perfect by eating healthy, tasty, rewarding meals starting with a good, authentic salade niçoise.

Niçoise salad is one of the best examples of the French Mediterranean diet. It’s a typical Provençal dish and the most common French salad here in the US. But sorry to say, it’s usually done WRONG.

Don’t ever try to make Julia Child‘s Niçoise for real niçoises (residents of Nice, where the salad was invented)! They will surely die of anger or just try to hit you with the first bottle of rosé they can find.

Julia Child was wrong (sorry). In this video of her version of the classic salad she goes on and on about the potato, dedicating an entire section to its cooking. Why, Julia, why? You seem like a very nice lady, and very funny, but excuse my French,  you were totally out of the hotplate on this one (à côté de la plaque means being way off the mark).

The plain truth is that there are absolutely NO potatoes and NO French beans in the authentic niçoise, contrary to what Julia taught. People from Nice are very strict about it: every ingredient put in should be raw and fresh (which makes it a raw salad before the raw diet even existed!).

I watched the video closely, and found an explanation. I think poor Julia was clearly misled by the potato man who appears at minute 8:00. If you listen to him closely, you can definitely tell that there’s something wrong : the man has no provençal accent! Clearly a sign that he was actually a KGB agent, working to lead the poor American people to never really know what the best French salad is. Poor Julia…

The authentic Niçoise is actually much much easier to make. It’s basically using fresh ingredients from the market in Provence, to which you add two fishes that are typical of the Mediterranean: anchovies and tuna. Black olives are also mandatory. Try to buy “real” ones: a good quality olive really makes the difference. The recipe I make is inspired by the recommendations of the “Cercle de la Capeline d’Or.” This very serious organization determines what a true Niçoise Salad is, and host a competition every year for the best recipe. Without further ado, here’s how to make it:

La Salade Niçoise

3 eggs

1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups arugula or mixed salad greens

4 tomatoes,

4 green onions

8 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained

1 (5-ounce) can tuna in olive oil

6 large basil leaves, shredded

1/2 cup small black olives

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes, unpeel them and cut them in half.

  • Rub the garlic clove on the inside of a large salad bowl, crushing the clove as you do so.
  • Add vinegar, salt, and pepper to the bowl and stir well. Whisk in olive oil.
  • Add the  greens and toss to coat. Slice the tomatoes and the green onions, and them.
  • Place tha anchovies, the tuna, the olives and the halved eggs  on top of the salad.
  • At the last minute, shred basil leaves on top of the salad and serve.

There you have it, the best, easiest, healthiest French and perfect salad of your dreams.

Might be the perfect recipe to celebrate the Cannes Festival, a few miles awsay from Nice. Can’t fly there for the red carpet? Pour yourself a glass of rosé, prepare your own niçoise, and repeat after me. “Cannes, c’est tellement over cette année.” (Cannes is so out now). It’s always better to be blasé. And who would like to be a starlette anyhow?

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