Summer vibe: Nicoise Salad



Too often, I forget how much I like Salade Nicoise. It took a media lunch held by Clos du Bois chardonnay and featuring Montreal Gazette fine dining critic Lesley Chesterman’s recipes to remind me of this timeless French recipe. And so I couldn’t help but want to share it with you here.

The traditional recipe calls for canned tuna, but it’s hard to find really good canned fish in Québec supermarkets. Try finding good tinned sardines from France, Spain or Italy outside of fine food stores and tell me about how it went… In fact, I know of a few Montreal chefs who actually make their own canned tuna for salad purposes, that’s how boring the industrialized version in supermarkets can be compared to the real deal.

Is it the influence of Japanese cuisine and sushi, today’s trendy Salade Nicoise often eschews the canned stuff in favour of tuna à l’unilatérale or tuna tataki, i.e. a slab of fish seared on the outside but still raw a coeur. This recipe is a case in point. I have to admit I quite like it, despite my deep respect for the classics, probably because I’ve been sushi obsessed since I celebrated my 21st birthday at Montreal’s first sushi bar on Saint-Denis, way back in the 80s.

While Lesley Chesterman’s take was served as the starter of a Chardonnay-centric meal, it would make a splendid light lunch or supper, especially when summer vegetables beckon. Salade Nicoise in fact lends itself even to winter grazing, if you’re lucky enough to find good tomatoes that is.



Chef Joanna Notkin finalizing the prep of the Salade niçoise served during the media event at Williams-Sonoma in Brossard’s Quartier Dix30.


For other recipes that pair well with Chardonnay, see her Red Pepper and Aged Cheddar Quiche, Bar-B-Cue Pork Tenderloin with Peaches and Granité Chardonnay with Grapefruit Confit.


  • 1. For the dressing: In a Masson jar, combine dressing ingredients except oil, close and shake vigourously. Add oil, close and shake again. Reserve.
  • 2. For the potatoes: Slice cooked potatoes, place in a bowl and pour over a few spoonfuls of dressing with chives. Cover and chill.
  • 3. For the beans: In a pot of boiling salted water, cook beans a few minutes or until tender-crisp. Transfer to a bowl of icy cold water to stop cooking. Drain on paper towels and reserve.
  • 4. For the tuna: 20 minutes or so before serving, heat skillet until very hot (or preheat barbecue on high). Season tuna and brush with dressing on both sides.
  • 5. Cook tuna steaks 2 minutes or so per side, until they are seared on the outside, but still slightly pink inside. Reserve in a plate and let cool.
  • 6. Cut lukewarm tuna into strips or large cubes.
  • 7. To dress: Cut eggs in quarters. Divide between plates along with all the vegetables. Sprinkle chopped onion on top, followed by olives, then basil. Place tuna in the middle and drizzle all with dressing. Serve immediately.
  • 8. Optional: Take advantage of barbecue season to grill beans or asparagus along with tuna.
  • 9. If desired, serve salad in a large platter placed in the middle of the table. Spectacular!