This gorgeous, hearty Chicken Salad Niçoise can be made with any seasonal vegetables that you happen to have on hand. Topped with an unconventional dressing, chicken, and homemade croutons, free-form salad Niçoise makes an easy, colorful, delicious meal.
For the Vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 shallot, peeled and quartered
- 3 tbsp minced fresh basil
- 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme – OR – 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp minced fresh oregano – OR – 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
- Simple homemade croutons
- 1 1/2 lbs small red potatoes, skins scrubbed (if on the large side, cut in half)
- 2 tbsp dry vermouth (optional)
- 4 large eggs
- 3 tomatoes, cut into eighths
- 1/2 small red onion, sliced very thin
- about 1 lb Boston, Bibb, or Romain lettuce, or any variety of mixed greens
- 10 – 12 oz sautéed green beans
- 2 or 3 sautéed red peppers
- 8 – 12 oz roast chicken
Make the Vinaigrette:
- Add all the vinaigrette ingredients except the olive oil to a blender and blend for 30 seconds or so on low speed to combine.
- With the blender running on medium speed, pour in the oil in a slow steady stream.
- Taste and adjust the amount of salt and pepper if necessary. Pour into a covered container or squeeze bottle, and refrigerate until ready to use. Shake well before using.
Make the salad:
- Make some croutons
- Fill a large dutch oven or stock pot with water and a couple tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and let simmer until they are tender when poked with a fork, about 15 minutes.
- Pour the the potatoes into a colander to drain and then transfer them to a medium sized bowl and toss with vermouth (if using) and about 1 tsp each salt and pepper. Allow them to sit for a couple of minutes and then toss with 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Set aside.
- Fill a medium sized sauce pan with water and bring to a rolling boil. Using tongs, gently lower the eggs into the boiling water. This will lower the temperature of the water slightly; wait for the water to come back to a rolling boil and then turn the temperature of the burner down to low. Cook eggs at a very gentle simmer for 11 minutes. Fill a bowl with cold water; using tongs, remove the eggs from the boiling water into the cold water. Let cool, then peel, and slice in half lengthwise.
- Put the tomatoes and onions into a bowl and toss with about 3 tbsp of the vinaigrette, and 1 tsp each salt and pepper.
- Arrange the lettuce on a large serving plate. Arrange all the vegetables – potatoes, tomatoes, red peppers, green beans – and eggs in piles around the edges of the plate.
- Toss the chicken with about 2 tbsp of vinaigrette and arrange in the center of the plate.
- Serve the Chicken Salad Niçoise with the remaining dressing and croutons.
You might have noticed that the instructions call for tossing all the vegetables except the lettuce with the vinaigrette before serving. This is because the lettuce will remain crisp in the refrigerator for another day or so if it’s not drenched in vinaigrette. I appreciate this if there’s enough Chicken Salad Niçoise left over to serve as my lunch the next day.