Salad Niçoise

frontcoverPicked up this book in Oxfam recently – it’s from 1977, published by Fontana, called Salad Days by wife and husband team Ursel (recipes)  and Derek (illustrations) Norman. It’s the illustrations and general design that convinced me to buy it – it’s saturated with jaunty drawings of the food and preparation process, eccentrically coloured in, with a double-page spread for each recipe. Sometimes the recipes are supported by diagrams/ drawings – arrows pointing from one ingredient to the next, helping the cook understand how they should be combining the various bits and pieces. Or at least that’s the idea – I found them a little too whimsical to be practical. Basically, this book is the polar opposite of the last I cooked from, the densely packed, illustration light Francatelli’s Cook’s Guide.  No haphazardly coloured in pictures of coleslaw for him!

diagramHow to combine ingredients

I made Salad Niçoise, a pretty safe bet, I reckoned.

Salad Niçoise

A French provincial classic, generally accepted as originating in Nice. A truly great salad, which is almost a complete meal in itself. Its combination of ingredients give it a wholesome country character, ideal for a summery lunch. It can also be served as a hors d’oeuvre.

2 lettuce hearts

2 tins tuna fish

10 or so stoned black olives

1 onion cut into rings

2 tomatoes, cut into wedges

100g or more cooked string beans

1 green pepper, cut into strips

100ml olive oil

50ml white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/4 teaspoon dried dill

salt and pepper to taste

1 clove garlic, crushed

(serves 4 for lunch or 6 as a hors d’oeuvre)

1. Wash and dry the lettuce and tear it into bite-size pieces. Line a nice platter with it

2. Mound the tuna fish in the centre and garnish the platter attractively with olives, onion rings, tomatoes, string beans, pepper strips and wedges of hard-boiled egg.

3. Make a vinaigrette dressing from the rest of the ingredients in a screwtop jar or bottle, and shake it to combine it all thoroughly

4. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve immediately

Note: Niçoise salad lends itself to great variation. Sometimes it can also include boiled and cubed potato, anchovy fillets, cooked artichoke bottoms or peas.




  • This worked beautifully – I’ve been eating it all weekend on its own and with meats. A very nice salad, all told.
  • I don’t really have a ‘nice platter’ so used a quiche dish – this was a little too small, so the salad was taller and more mounded up than was perhaps desirable .
  • I didn’t have an onion, so no onion rings were involved in the attractive garnish of veg. They would make a nice addition, I’m sure.
  • I used fresh tarragon, as that’s what I had. I think fresh dill instead of dried would have been nicer too.
  • The vinaigrette was a little sharp. I added some caster sugar to subsequent servings and that helped, but it still wasn’t quite..there.
  • Garnishing attractively is harder than I thought.  A larger serving dish no doubt would have made this easier.

5 responses to “Salad Niçoise

  1. I have a photocopy of my parents’ copy of their soup book, and it’s great. Really good recipes, every thing from French Onion to Sour Cherry, Cockaleekie and “Californian Avocado”. I didn’t know they did other titles.

  2. Sour cherry soup!? Have you made that one? I would be very interested in the outcome.

    According to my copy they also published ‘Pasta and Oodles of Noodles’. I’m def going to make more from Salad Days; they do seem to be decent, tried and tested recipes. Perhaps I could do one a week, I dunno, call it ‘Salad Tuesdays’ or something.

  3. I have a Jewish recipe book from the 40s with sour cherry soup in it – I think it’s a Hungarian dish originally.

  4. It’s German too (Ursula was Deutsch, and I think there’s also a beer soup recipe). Haven’t tried it as it has cream in it (am lactose intolerant). Did bump into a friend who was making it yesterday though.

  5. Some parts of Eastern Europe have the climate for growing fantastic fruit. Recipes for it evolved over centuries. Polish jam and canned fruit were common in 1960’s grocery shops. Morello cherries are the sour type. Another fruit soup uses melon with citrus and ginger – very refreshing.