I’m not even sure when or why I decided I must have a Niçoise salad in my life, just that it needed to happen. But it had to happen without tuna.
Another thing I’m not sure about? How to pronounce “Niçoise.” For me, it’s one of those words that I read occasionally but have never, to my recollection, actually heard out loud. That “ç” must make it sound really fancy, but yeah. No clue. I need Eminem to use it in a hit song so that I can finally learn how to correctly pronounce the word. Not that that’s, um, ever happened before.
So, this salad! Classic salad Niçoise generally boasts tuna, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives (a small, bold black olive), tomatoes, baby potatoes, and green beans or, if you’re fancy, “haricots verts” (yeah, I’m not sure how to pronounce that one, either). It’s all piled atop a bed of crisp lettuce. A drizzle of Dijon-spiked vinaigrette brings the whole thing together.
But, as I mentioned before, no tuna in this vegetarian salad Niçoise recipe – instead, we’ve got chickpeas! Chickpeas are, incidentally, my favorite sub for tuna – they’ve got protein, they’re healthy, and they’re delicious on their own but also transform into all kinds of various forms of otherworldly goodness.
Once I got the tuna substitution issue out of the way, another pesky problem popped up. I couldn’t find Niçoise olives anywhere! Even at high-end grocery stores with olive bars. No bueno. So I subbed in kalamata olives instead. Is it blasphemy? I’m not sure. But I am sure that it’s very, very delicious.
Olive this Chickpea Salad Niçoise.
You know I had to.
Chickpea Salad Niçoise
For the Dijon-Thyme Vinaigrette:
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 shallot (minced (about 2 tablespoons))
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste if desired
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
- 1/2 pound green beans (trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 3/4 pound baby red potatoes (halved)
- 1 head butter lettuce (washed and torn into bite-size pieces)
- 4 hard-boiled eggs (peeled and quartered)
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
- 1/2 cup pitted Niçoise olives or Kalamata olives
- Make the dressing. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together until well-blended. (You can also add the ingredients to a mason jar, screw on the lid tightly, and shake to mix.) Taste and add additional salt if desired. Set aside.
- Place the chickpeas in a medium bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- Set a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add a couple of pinches of salt and add the green beans. Scoop the beans out with a slotted spoon and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside. Add baby potatoes to the pot of boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes, until fork tender. Drain potatoes and place in a medium bowl. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the potatoes and toss gently to distribute. Set aside.
- Lay the lettuce in an even layer on a large platter. Top with chickpeas, green beans, potatoes, eggs, tomatoes, and olives. I like to add the ingredients in sections because I like the presentation. Drizzle with about half of the remaining vinaigrette. Serve immediately with the rest of the vinaigrette alongside so that individuals can add more dressing to their servings if they like.