Karen Wright: Salade niçoise – a perfect hot weather recipe

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The phrase ‘salad days’ sprung into my head the other day and not being entirely sure of the meaning I looked it up.

Karen Wright writes: It means the period when you were young and inexperienced. It originated from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, which includes the line “they were my salad days when I was green in judgement”. Nothing to do with a big platter of salad to enjoy on a hot summer’s day then!

The unprecedented heatwave we have experienced recently had me crying out for easy to prepare, fresh tasting and lightweight meals. I made a fabulous salade niçoise with a gorgeous fougasse to mop up the juices.

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The fougasse is a French flatbread, very similar to focaccia its Italian cousin. The difference is that traditional fougasse is baked on a hot stone which gives it a crisp crust. Shaped to resemble an ear of corn it is typical of the Provencal area of southern France.

Salade niçoiseSalade niçoise
Salade niçoise

The salade niçoise originated in the south of France too, from Nice in particular. Typically, it contains some oily fish, olives, boiled eggs, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes and lettuce.

As with all recipes you can leave out ingredients you don’t have or don’t like, just substitute with what you have in the cupboard. This changes the recipe a bit but that is in fact how recipes evolve over time, it is good to experiment!

This is how I made my salad: I cut up some room temperature tomatoes and sprinkled them with salt to encourage them to share their best flavour. I cooked some green beans until just al dente, then plunged them into a bowl of cold water to stop them cooking and to retain the vibrant colour.

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Next I boiled some eggs and new potatoes, and finely chopped a few shallots. I used a tin of tuna in oil and a small tin of anchovies.


To make the dressing I used three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, three tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and the juice of a lemon. I added crushed olives, a few anchovies, garlic and salt and pepper.

Using a large platter to assemble, I chopped up some crispy lettuce and layered all the ingredients on the top. Finally, I poured over the dressing and scattered with fresh herbs – basil or parsley work well. Bon appétit!

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