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Summer Nicoise Salad

Summer Nicoise Salad

By Natalie Bickford, MS

Summer is in full swing and that means access to some of the best seasonal produce. The farmers markets are bursting with juicy tomatoes and peaches, all difference shapes and sizes of summer squash and lots of beautiful lettuce varieties.

Since the temperatures are climbing, I try to avoid heavy meals that require a ton of stove or oven time. My go-to summer meal is usually a large salad that’s substantial enough to fill me up. This means there needs to be plenty of protein, carbs, fat and a zingy dressing. To create your own salad masterpiece follow my formula: a bed of greens + a mix of cooked and raw vegetables + protein + something crunchy + something salty + zingy dressing = a meal-size salad that won't leave you feeling hangry. Enter: nicoise salad!

Learn about other ways to get creative with seasonal veggies and the benefits of buying local!

Nicoise salads come from Nice, France and are a simple way to showcase the beautiful seasonal produce of spring and summer. The great thing about this recipe is that you can use whatever seasonal produce or proteins you have on hand. Try it with asparagus instead of green beans or grilled carrots instead of potatoes or snap peas instead of tomatoes. The options are endless! 
For protein, use any leftover grilled proteins like chicken, steak or salmon. If you don't have a grill, my favorite way to quickly cook chicken or salmon this time of year is to poach it in salty broth or water. Simply place the chicken or fish in a pot and fill with cold water to cover by 2-inches and plenty of salt. Bring to a boil then very gently simmer for 10-15 minutes, depending on the protein you choose. Easy!

Summer Nicoise Salad
Serves 4

1 lb baby potatoes 
1 tbsp salt
1 lb green beans, trimmed
2 heads lettuce (romaine, frisee, butter, etc...), chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 boiled eggs, halved
1.5 lb protein (salmon, chicken, steak), grilled, cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup capers, drained and rinsed (or ½ cup olives)
½ cup fresh dill or basil

For the dressing:
⅓ cup lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper


In a large pot, add the potatoes and salt and fill with cold water to cover the potatoes by two inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. 

Remove the potatoes from the simmering water and set aside to cool. Bring the water back to a boil and add the green beans. Blanch them by simmering for 1 minute, or until crisp tender. Drain the green beans and run them immediately under cold water to stop them from cooking and getting mushy. 

Make the dressing by adding all of the ingredients to a mason jar. Twist on the lid and shake vigorously to emulsify. 

Add the lettuce to a large bowl and toss with ¼ of the dressing. Divide between 4 plates or onto one large platter. Assemble the nicoise salad by topping the lettuce with potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, boiled egg, protein of choice, and capers. Drizzle it all with the remaining dressing. Garnish with fresh dill or basil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. 

Recipe and photographs by Natalie Bickford.

Natalie is a nutritionist and personal chef in Portland, OR who specializes in women's health and sports nutrition. She loves creating simple, nourishing meals and recipes to fuel your life. Find Natalie at nataliecooks.com. 

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