Vegetarian Salade Niçoise – Savoury Summer on a Plate
When I spotted Cornish new potatoes at my local greengrocers at the weekend, I couldn’t resist purchasing some. Somehow, a bunch of Cornish asparagus made its way into my basket too. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a vegetarian salade Niçoise.
What is Salade Niçoise?
Salade Niçoise is a summer salad which originates from Nice in France. The version known and loved by us Brits consists of new potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, black olives and boiled eggs on a bed of lettuce accompanied by a garlicky dressing. One of the crucial ingredients is fish; anchovies are used in the traditional French recipe and tuna in the British adaptation. As it happens Nice chefs are appalled by our inclusion of potatoes and French beans or any other boiled vegetable come to that. Oh well!
Vegetarian Salade Niçoise
Whatever the rights and wrongs of boiled vegetables, fish was clearly out for me. I reckoned pieces of fried halloumi would work well as an alternative to salty anchovies. I wasn’t wrong. As my salade Niçoise was clearly not going to bear much resemblance to the traditional French version, I opted to include potatoes. Cornish new potatoes are in season right now and it was indeed these buttery beauties that inspired me to make this salad. I wanted to keep my salad relevant to early summer, so I reckoned seasonal Cornish asparagus would make an excellent substitute for the green beans.
Spring onions or shallots are generally included in a Niçoise salad. I didn’t have any onions to hand, so I snipped some chives over mine instead. I wasn’t convinced that cucumber would be a good addition, although it’s invariably a component of this salad. There would be plenty of crunch from the crisp lettuce leaves, so I left it out.
Dressings can make or break a salad and this one set off my vegetarian salade Niçoise beautifully. I used kombucha vinegar, although red wine vinegar is traditional and can easily be substituted. It gives me a bit of a kick using something I’ve made myself and it does have a good flavour. I’ve also included English mustard rather than French, mostly because that’s what I had to hand. The garlic is essential, but be careful. I grated a medium sized clove into the dressing, which was just about right. I adore garlic but pressing or grating it makes it far more powerful than simple chopping and I didn’t want it dominating the salad. My final addition, which isn’t at all traditional, was to add a little quince jelly. This just took the edge off the vinegar and added a little fruity note. You could use honey or another fruit jelly instead, or just leave it out all together.
There is nothing better than seasonal fresh produce newly harvested and both the potatoes and asparagus were exceptional. The potatoes were so buttery and delicious we’d probably have been happy consuming just those alone. The same goes for the asparagus. However, I’m so glad I combined them with all the other ingredients to make this vegetarian salade Niçoise. It was truly sensational.
Vegetarian Salade Niçoise – The Recipe
A vegetarian and early summer version of the classic French salade Niçoise. It's a hearty and delicious dish with a good variety of flavours and textures
- 1 large or 2 small Little Gem lettuce - leaves separated and washed
- 500 g new potatoes (I used Cornish) - scrubbed and halved
- sprig of mint
- 4 ripe salad tomatoes - quartered
- 225 g block halloumi
- 8 spears of asparagus (I used Cornish)
- 4 eggs
- 8 large black olives
- handful of chives
- 1 clove garlic - peeled & finely grated
- 1 tsp English mustard
- 1 tsp honey or fruit jelly ( I used quince jelly)
- pinch sea or rock salt
- grinding of black pepper
- 2 tbsp red wine or cider vinegar (I used kombucha vinegar)
- 6 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Cover the potatoes in cold water. Add the sprig of mint, cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are just done.
- Meanwhile, place all of the dressing ingredients into a sealed jar and shake until emulsified.
- Drain the potatoes and drizzle over 2 tbsp of the dressing. Set aside.
- Place the eggs in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes. Rinse under cold water immediately to stop the eggs cooking further.
- Snap the hard bottoms off the asparagus spears and set aside to make stock later. Fry the asparagus over a medium heat in a tsp of olive oil for a few minutes. Turn to ensure even cooking. Alternatively grill.
- Wash the halloumi to remove some of the salt. Cut into small chunks, then fry them in the asparagus pan (after the asparagus has been removed) for 4 minutes. Toss the cheese in the pan a couple of times to ensure it's nicely browned all over.
- Line a salad bowl with the dried lettuce leaves. Spoon the potatoes over the top. Layer on the tomatoes, followed by the halloumi. Drizzle over a tbsp of the dressing. Peel and half the eggs and arrange over the top together with the asparagus and olives. Snip in the chives and serve. Pour any remaining dressing into a jug or bowl and serve alongside for people to help themselves.
I’m sharing my vegetarian salade Niçoise with Meat Free Mondays over at Tinned Tomatoes.
It also goes to Feeding Boys for Simple and in Season.
Other recipes for summer salad recipes you might like
- 5 minute Mexican salad (vegan) via Easy Peasy Foodie
- Asparagus salad with baked egg via Only Crumbs Remain
- Chargrilled asparagus & courgette salad with goat’s cheese via The Foodie Family Blog
- Cucumber tomato avocado feta salad via My Gorgeous Recipes
- Deeply spiced lentil salad via Beach Hut Cook
- Easy chickpea garlic vinaigrette salad via The Hidden Veggies
- Edamame pesto with soba noodles (vegan) via Rhian’s Recipes
- Fennel salad (vegan) via Tin and Thyme
- Green beans with tofu, miso and sesame dressing via Kavey Eats
- Quinoa, watercress, walnut & blue cheese salad via Tin and Thyme
- Smoky summer salad with coconut bacon via Vegan Chickpea
- Strawberry cucumber mint salad with a Pimm’s dressing via Foodie Quine
- Summer veggie pasta salad via Strength and Sunshine
- Three grain salad with roasted pepper dressing via Thinly Spread
- Tomato red onion coriander salad via Fab Food 4 All
- Tomato salad with basil and garlic in a jar via Farmersgirl Kitchen
Vegetarian Salade Niçoise. PIN IT.