Sardine Nicoise Salad

PrimalSalade nicoise might just be the original “Big Ass Salad”. A French classic, Salade nicoise is a rainbow of ingredients arranged on top of lettuce: green beans, purple potatoes, hardboiled eggs, tomatoes, olives, fresh herbs and, usually, tuna. This recipe follows the French preparation pretty closely—with once exception. Instead of opening a can of tuna, try sardines instead.

Although there’s nothing wrong with using tuna for this salad, it’s a good idea to balance your protein intake from different sources. What do sardines have to offer? Sardines are largely free of the heavy metals other, larger fish tend to accumulate (like tuna). They provide ample calcium, iron, protein, selenium, magnesium and omega-3s.

Canned sardines packed in olive oil generally tend to have better flavor and texture than water packed sardines, but it depends on the brand. Ideally, buy sardines with bones and skin included.

Once all the toppings are prepped for this salad, they’ll stay fresh for several days. Store the prepped toppings (green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives) in a large Tupperware container in the refrigerator. Right before eating, scatter some of the toppings over a big bowl of greens, open a can a sardines, and dig in.

Time in the Kitchen: 30 minutes

Servings: 4



  • 6 ounces haricot verts (thin French green beans) (170 g)
  • 6 small purple potatoes
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced or quartered
  • 1/2 cup (3 oz) pitted nicoise olives (or kalamata) (85 g)
  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) cherry tomatoes, halved (227 g)
  • 8 ounces sardines (227 g)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (10 ml)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (1.2 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (30 ml)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (120 ml)
  • 1 small head butter lettuce, plus a few handfuls of mixed salad greens
  • Fresh herbs for garnish (basil, oregano or parsley)



Fill a medium-sized pot halfway with water. Bring to a boil and add green beans. Cook just 2 minutes. Pull the bean out with tongs and plunge into a bowl filled with ice water. When the beans are cool, remove from the ice water and pat dry. For easier eating, cut the beans in half.

Put the whole potatoes in the same pot of water that you cooked the beans in. Add enough salt to make the water very salty. Bring the water to a gentle simmer. Cook at a gentle simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Set the potatoes aside to cool, then slice or quarter.

Whisk together the shallot, garlic, mustard, salt, red wine vinegar and olive oil.

Right before eating, toss salad greens with the toppings: green beans, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and tomatoes. Add sardines, and salad dressing. Scatter fresh herbs of your choice on top of the salad before eating.


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13 thoughts on “Sardine Nicoise Salad”

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  1. Love, love, love Nicoise salad…can’t believe I never thought to make it with sardines. I am totally on the sardine bandwagon…I feel they are even better than salmon since you are eating the whole fish. One of my favorite ways to eat them is with avocado…great combo of healthy fats and holds me for hours.

    1. I haven’t tried them with avocado! Definitely going to give it a shot. It sounds like an awesome combo.

  2. Salade Nicoise makes a great lunch or light dinner. I love sardines but my family doesn’t share my enthusiasm. I usually make this with grilled salmon served on a large platter surrounded by the rest of the ingredients (but not necessarily tossed together). Best eaten outside on a gorgeous summer evening.

  3. Loved that Nicoise salad its looking so fresh and nutritious and healthy thanks for sharing the recipe

  4. I also love a can of olive oil sardines with just chopped carrots and celery. Simple and a great example of the sum being greater than the parts

  5. That’s Nice…oise! Love salads and usually whatever I toss together I like and combinations are endless, but this sounds great, thanks Mark! Anybody looked into Russian salads? I was surprised lots of quite primal stuff if you want to go resistant starch side, tons of potatoes, eggs, mayo, root vegetables, fish and or other seafood/meat… May explain how why some of them seem like invincible bears? Sorry if i’m off topic, just a thought.

  6. It’s really colorful and looks like heavenly food.I haven’t tried before sardine recipes before, but I love the way of presentation it really looks natural and eye catchy.If I get time surely buy sardine and make a try.

  7. Sorry for these questions as I have never eaten sardines before. Do you just eat the bones and all? My parents always cautioned us against getting fish bones stuck in our guts or throats. What do sardines taste most like? Tuna or cod or another flaky white fish? Are they salty?

  8. Alright this is perfect, sardine is something I would match perfectly with a salad, but never found the proper ingredients to make it perfect. I think it is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of what sardines provide to us adding some other vegetables. Of course, in my opinion I consider that cheese or a juice of mixed fruits would be awesome with it. I cannot wait to eat it!

  9. A nice recipe..I believe it is a great dish to have after workouts. I will definitely try this recipe for sure and tell you how it tasted.

  10. I love the recipe.I think it is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of what sardines provide to us adding some other vegetables.