Chicken Salad Nicoise: A Colorful Main Dish Salad
Chicken Salad Nicoise

This Provencal salad is said to originate in the city of Nice, France. The classic salade nicoise is made with tuna, but I prefer the lighter taste of chicken.

A hearty combination of flavors, colors and textures makes this Chicken Salad Nicoise an excellent main dish for lunch, dinner, or a late-night supper. If you're having any event where you want a main dish salad that can be made ahead, this is it. It's a wonderful salad to make at summer's end.

There are different ways to present this Chicken Salad Nicoise salad.

This Chicken Salad Nicoise can be served on a bed of lettuce with the vegetables grouped together along with the eggs, chicken and black olives. I prefer to mix all of the salad ingredients together and dress it with an assertive citrus vinaigrette. The eggs, tomatoes and basil are arranged around the salad to provide a colorful garnish. More dressing can be served on the side.

It's easy to julienne vegetables, once you know how. To julienne a vegetable cut it into a rectangle and then cut into thin slices one way and then cut into thin slices the other way creating long, thin slices that look pretty in the salad. You can also use a mandoline.

Make sure to cook the hard-boiled eggs so that they have a bright yellow center that offsets the other colors in the salad. The best method is to bring the eggs to a boil and then turn off the heat and cover them for 8 minutes. Refresh with cold water and then cool and peel.

Nicoise olives are small, dark and oval-shaped. Their briny meatiness add a unique and defining signature to this zesty vegetable and chicken mixture. You can find nicoise olives that are grown in France or Morocco in most super markets.

For a festive entree, serve the Chicken Salad Nicoise salad with crusty French rolls. To drink, why not a chilled Sauvignon Blanc or a French Rose?

[ Also: Chicken Salad with Avocado and Mint-Soy Vinaigrette ]

Chicken Salad Nicoise Recipe

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Cook time: 40 minutes

    Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Chicken Salad Nicoise Recipe Ingredients

    About 3 cups chicken stock and/or water

    1/2 teaspoon salt, if using water

    3 whole chicken breasts, boned

    1 pound red-skinned potatoes

    1/2 cup cut-up green beans (1 1/2-inch pieces)

    2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned

    1 small red sweet pepper, seeded and julienned

    1/2 cup nicoise olives

    1 small red onion, thinly sliced and then cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

    2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

    2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chervil or basil

    Feshly ground black pepper


    2 medium garlic cloves, minced

    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

    2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chervil or basil

    2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

    1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper


    3 hard-cooked eggs, quartered

    2 small tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges

    Fresh basil leaves and flowers

Chicken Salad Nicoise Recipe Directions

    1. In a medium skillet with high sides or a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock or water or a combination of chicken stock and water to a simmer. If using water only, add the 1/2 teaspoon salt.

    2. Add the chicken breasts; they should be fully immersed in the liquid. Simmer just until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the chicken cool in the liquid. Drain, remove and discard the skin, and shred the meat by tearing into long, thin pieces. Place in a large bowl.

    3. In a large pot, combine the potatoes with water to cover generously. Bring to a boil and cook until tender but slightly resistant when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and let cool. When cool, peel and cut into julienne. Add to the bowl with the chicken.

    4. Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Immerse the green beans and cook until tender but slightly resistant, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and place in ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, drain well, pat dry, and add to the chicken and potatoes.

    5. Add the carrots, red pepper, olives, red onion, capers, chervil or basil, and pepper to taste to the chicken. Toss to combine.

    6. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, chervil or basil, and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper.

    7. Add just enough dressing to the salad to moisten it. Toss carefully to combine, making sure not to break up the capers. Taste for seasoning.

    8. Mound the salad high in a large, shallow bowl. Alternate the egg wedges and tomato wedges around the outside edge. Garnish with chervil sprigs or basil leaves and serve. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.

Advance Preparation: This salad may be prepared through step 5 up to 6 hours ahead, covered and refrigerated, making sure that the potatoes are at the bottom of the bowl. The dressing may be prepared and kept covered at room temperature. The salad may be made completely ahead, including the garnish, up to 2 hours before serving and refrigerated.

[ Also: Chicken Salad with Avocado and Mint-Soy Vinaigrette ]

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Chicken Salad Nicoise Recipe - A Colorful Main Dish Salad

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