This elegant Rare Ahi Tuna Salade Niçoise is a twist on the classic French salad using fresh tuna instead of the traditional canned tuna. Typically composed of canned tuna, Niçoise olives, haricots verts, potatoes, tomatoes, capers, anchovies, and a light drizzle of lemon and olive oil, there are numerous variations.

My French Tuna Salad is made with seared fresh tuna slices, plus the addition of hard-boiled egg halves and a mustard vinaigrette on a bed of baby spinach. It’s perfectly acceptable to add or subtract ingredients and make it your own.

Overhead view of an Ahi Tuna Salade Niçoise on a white plate

Why You Should Make this Salad

  • When in France a few years ago, I ordered salad Niçoise at every destination: Paris, Aix en Provence, Bayeux, and Cannes. The variations were endless, but they were all made with canned tuna. I loved all the subtle variations.
  • This version is more gourmet and elegant than your traditional version, but it’s still made with all the classic tuna Niçoise ingredients.
  • If you have access to a good fishmonger, pick up some fresh ahi tuna and give this salad a try!

What is in a Salade Niçoise?

My Food Lover’s Companion describes Salade Niçoise as containing tomatoes, black olives, garlic, and anchovies plus French green beans, onions, tuna, hard-cooked eggs, and herbs. Check, check, and more checks. I could use all my favorite ingredients and add seared Ahi instead of oil-packed can tuna.

I’m sure this Ahi Tuna Salade Niçoise is sacrilege by many Niçoise purists, but the hubby was out of town, and I wanted to treat myself to one of my favorites without having to make a backup plan for dinner. You can alter the amounts of ingredients to suit your preferences when making a salade niçoise.

I’m not a huge fan of hard-boiled eggs, so I only used three…and upped the tuna amounts. I didn’t even bother with the garnishes…I was too eager to dig in! Besides being utterly breathtaking with all the vibrant colors, this twist on the classic French salad was as palate-pleasing as I imagined. If you love entree salads, you’ll also enjoy this Next Day Beef Salad using leftover roast beef.

Overhead view of Ahi Tuna Salade Niçoise on a white platter

Rare Ahi Tuna

I was first exposed to sushi in my teens when we lived in Vancouver. My parents would explore some of the more exotic restaurants on the weekends, then treat my sisters and me once they found a favorite. We quickly became fans of this Japanese dish which was such a foreign experience for us Iowans.

The idea of eating raw seafood made us feel hip and chic. Fast forward a couple of decades to when Bill and I ate at Todd English’s Olives and I had my first taste of tuna tartare. My love affair with rare tuna was reignited…and almost anytime Ahi tuna is on the menu, I will order it. 

PRO-Tip: Ahi tuna can be contaminated with mercury, so it’s recommended to limit your intake. Pregnant women and children should avoid eating ahi tuna. On the plus side, tuna is high in essential omega-3 fatty acids. So the takeaway is that this Ahi Tuna Salade Niçoise should not be on your weekly menu, but every now and then is OK. And if you love salmon, make sure to try this Salmon Watercress Salad, too!

Ahi Tuna Salade Niçoise on a white salad plate with a red handled fork

Variations of Tuna Salad Niçoise

There are so many versions, that I doubt any restaurant serves the exact same recipe. Here are some ideas for making this classic French salad your own:

  • Vary your protein. If you’re opposed to eating rare tuna, feel free to substitute a good quality canned or jarred tuna. Tuna in oil is classic, but if tuna canned in water is your preference, you can go that route. Look for the jarred tuna in olive oil. It’s pricey but delicious. Grilled salmon is a fun alternative.
  • Make sure you have plenty of color on your plate! Green beans, basil, greens, red tomatoes, black olives, cream-colored potatoes, and pink tuna will make a rainbow for your eyes.
  • I haven’t found the oily Nicoise olives locally, so if you’re in the same boat, Kalamata or another favorite olive works in a pinch.
  • The dressing can be a simple lemon juice and olive oil concoction, or a vinaigrette with herbs, mustard, garlic, and minced shallots.

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This post was originally shared in October 2012. Photos and text were updated in 2019.

Ahi Tuna Salade Niçoise on a white salad plate with a red handled fork

Ahi Tuna Salade Niçoise Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Total Time 24 minutes
Yield 4 servings

A twist on the classic French salad Nicoise using fresh tuna instead of canned tuna.



  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 pound small new potatoes, boiled till tender, cooled and halved
  • 8 ounces haricot verts (French green beans), blanched
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved if needed
  • ½ cup Niçoise olives, pits removed (I used Kalamata olives)
  • 8 anchovies (I did not use)
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, cooled, then halved
  • ¾-1 pound sushi grade Ahi tuna
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Baby lettuces or spinach
  • ¼ cup scallions or red onion, thinly sliced, optional garnish
  • Basil, optional garnish
  • Salt and pepper, as needed


  1. Make the dressing by mixing all ingredients except olive oil. Slowly add olive oil while whisking continuously. Set aside.
  2. Drizzle a small amount of dressing on each side of the tuna. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour, flipping once.
  3. Remove from fridge, pat dry, and season both sides with salt and pepper. Put about 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a saute pan.
  4. Sear tuna on both sides for a minute or to the desired doneness. Briefly sear all edges. Allow to cool, then slice.
  5. Arrange a bed of lettuce on individual plates or a platter. Arrange the remaining ingredients over the lettuce.
  6. Drizzle with dressing and garnish with onions and basil if desired.


Adapted from Saveur.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 712Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 222mgSodium: 1247mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 8gSugar: 12gProtein: 28g occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.


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