Here is a nicoise salad that is full of texture and interest, can be meal prepped or served warm/room temperature, includes veggies and carbs and protein, and has a to-die-for flavor base. So that checks a lot of boxes.
Salads-as-boring is kind of a tired old story, but maybe a truthful one nonetheless. I'm always looking for salads with lots of STUFF on them. One of my favorite things to order at delis is a salad sampler kind of thing, and nicoise salads are that way naturally.
I've seen lots of versions of nicoise salads - some with rice instead of potatoes, fresh tuna instead of canned, and lots of have olives and eggs. I don't like eggs and Jay doesn't like olives, so you understand why those two items are missing here.
The KEY to this salad is that we make one mustard base, then use it in different ways in the tuna, green beans, potatoes, AND salad dressing. This takes some steps out of the dish since we don't have to make all separate sauces, and each component tastes slightly different while also belonging together from the mustard.
Let's make Mustard Nicoise Salad! The first step is to make the mustard base, which is grainy mustard (the grainest you have!), salt, sugar, and olive oil. Whisk it together and keep it around for the other items on the salad.
Once the mustard mixture is done, grab the ingredients for the tuna salad. This, by the way, is DELICIOUS on its own with crackers or on a sandwich. We have canned/drained tuna, chopped capers, dried dill, mayonnaise, and a scoop of the mustard base.
Mix the tuna together gently with a fork, and taste it for yum factor. Add some pinches of salt and pepper if you'd like!
Next, potatoes. Grab some teeny potatoes and some garlic cloves. Cut the potatoes in half or quarters to bite-sized. Place the potatoes and garlic cloves (peeled and smashed) in a pot of salted water. Bring the potatoes to a boil and let them cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.
Drain the potatoes and discard the garlic cloves, then toss the potatoes while they're warm with butter and more of the mustard base. Taste, add salt, you know the drill. These are SO good. Maybe my favorite component of the entire dish.
Once the potatoes are done, bring some more water to a boil for the green beans - just three or four inches of water. Boil the green beans for ONE minute, then drain them to a bowl. Toss the beans with the mustard base, salt, and some vinegar.
Now, gather up the rest of the salad components. Chopped lettuce, sliced shallot. The green beans, potatoes, and tuna salad. With the rest of the mustard base, make a vinaigrette with some chopped shallot, salt, honey, and vinegar. YUM, again.
Now, I arrange some lettuce on a wide plate or bowl, then drizzle just a bit of dressing over the lettuce base.
Top each salad (this makes two or three big salads) with tuna, potatoes, green beans, and shallots.
At this point, you could add pepper, olives or more capers, hard boiled eggs, or more of the dressing!
The flavor here is INSANE. It might feel like overkill with the mustard but it's really not - the butter in the potatoes, vinegar in the beans, and capers and dill in the tuna make each component feel really different even though some of the ingredients are repeated.
I love making a double batch of this and having leftovers for lunches or quick dinners. The potatoes are great warm and absorb so much of the butter/mustard flavor that way, but are delicious straight out of the fridge as well.
Enjoy this twist on nicoise salad!
Mustard Nicoise Salad
- Mustard Base
- ¼ cup grainy brown mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ pound baby potatoes scrubbed and halved
- 2 peeled and smashed garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 5 ounces tuna drained
- 1 tablespoon capers chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried dill
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 6 ounce thin green beans
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar divided
- 1 shallot
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 8 cups salad greens I like chopped romaine or something crunchy
- Whisk together the ingredients for the mustard base.
- Place the potatoes and garlic cloves in a small pot and cover with water by about 3 inches. Salt the water, and bring to a boil. Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes until fork tender.
- Drain the potatoes. Discard the garlic cloves. In a bowl, toss the hot potatoes with the butter and two tablespoons of the mustard base. Taste, and add salt and pepper until very flavor.
- In a separate bowl, combine the tuna, capers, dill, and mayonnaise with one tablespoon of the mustard base. Taste for seasoning.
- Bring two or so inches of salted water to a boil (in the same pot as you used for the potatoes saves a dish!). Boil the green beans for one minute, then drain and transfer to a bowl. Toss the green beans with one tablespoon of the mustard base, one tablespoon of the vinegar, and a few pinches of salt.
- Mince half of the shallot and slice the other half.
- Whisk the rest of the mustard base with the minced shallot, 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, the honey, and a few pinches of salt. If the dressing seems too thick, add water a teaspoon at a time to thin it out.
- Build salads with mounds of crunchy lettuce, buttery potatoes, briny tuna salad, and tangy green beans. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the sliced shallots.