Nicoise Like Never Before
I adore French food, but I have found it very difficult to get vegan versions of my favorite French flavors. I remember the first time I had a nicoise salad (sans tuna, or any fish for that matter), I adored the hearty attempt at a salad that could be as filling as a burger. The flavors of mixed herbs, the most delicious olives, and the oven baked potatoes paired with fresh lettuce and veggies were just perfection on a plate. This is my attempt to recreate that dish for you, but with the added surprise of vegan tuna.
Depending on where you live, nicoise can be composed and served differently. I like when it’s served “platter” style, so that’s what I did for this recipe. If you have a large platter, you can line it with baking sheets and spread your salad out and have people serve themselves. I have mostly seen nicoise served on a platter in France with tomatoes as the base instead of lettuce. In America I have had it tossed on a salad plate or bowl, do whatever works for you!
Besides the base of the salad alternating between sliced tomatoes and lettuce, I have also seen nicoise served with hard boiled eggs, making it even heartier of a salad. Sometimes instead of tuna there are sardines or even both. In the states I have also seen chicken replacing the tuna, so if you want to skip making vegan tuna from scratch, you can you store-bough vegan chicken to replace it.
The last element up for debate are the olives! You will mostly see black olives. I actually love this salad with marinated green olives. It’s really up to you and what you like and what’s available to you.
Now you may think I love seafood, being this is my second post in a month at recreating a dish with under water creatures, but honestly I don’t, I can’t even handle nori rolls to be honest. Fishy flavor is not my thing, so this vegan tuna is not going to fool anyone, but I assure you it’s delicious, has a nice texture, and can be used in vegan tuna sandwiches, vegan sushi, or anything else you want to add vegan tuna to. If you do love fish flavor, I suggest adding some sea vegetable flakes for that ocean kick.
This recipe can really be broken up into two major tasks, making the tuna and making the dressing, the rest is just really assembling the dish. For the tuna, you are going to need a juicer. Yep, you read that right. You are going to use the carrot pulp, and you want to get as much liquid out of the carrots as possible, so that’s why you really need a juicer for this recipe.
I clean and skin my carrots before I start the juicing process. Usually I wind up with very dry, fluffy pulp. This is perfect to hold the mayo dressing that transforms your carrots into “tuna”. If your juicer doesn’t give you this consistency, you can put the pulp in a strainer and sprinkle with salt and let drain for about 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Once your carrots are right, you can add in the dressing ingredients and gently mix. You will wind up with a tuna salad like consistency. Cover and let marinate in the fridge while you work on the potatoes, dressing, and assembly of the plate.
Vegan Nicoise Dressing
This dressing is very simple and delicious. All you have to do is put everything in a jar and shake, shake shake, until it’s well mixed. If you are missing some herbs and have others, it’s easy to replace and edit things to taste. For example, the tarragon is a delicious, French touch, but it’s no big deal if you don’t have any. Don’t let it hold you up from making this delicious salad. Oregano can replace the tarragon easily. Also if you don’t like things spicy, skip the red pepper flakes all together. One thing I suggest not editing out is the dill, it just really works well with everything.
The potatoes are simply seasoned, skinned, boiled, then baked for a little bit. I suggest not skipping this ingredient, because potatoes are what makes it such a hearty salad. A good trick is to coat the potatoes in dressing before placing them in the fridge to cool down. This helps them from drying out and also allows you to make the potatoes ahead of time.
Plating your Vegan Nicoise
Like I mentioned, I like the platter method of plating nicoise. I like to plate this salad in a way where everything is resting on salad greens, and separated, with dressing on the side. I am not sure if you can tell, but the plate above is huge, making this salad a good dinner for two, or a light lunch for four. I like to serve everything cool, even the potatoes.
It’s a rather simple salad that is impressive and delicious. You can make the dressing, potatoes, and “tuna” ahead of time and then this would become a very quick lunch or dinner that just needs some assembling.
If enjoyed this meal let me know what you think by leaving a ★★★★★ star rating and comment below with any questions or feedback. These are two small things that add up to a ton of support, which I really appreciate. Also show off your pics to me on instagram by tagging @theveganholidayblog and #veganholidaypic – I am excited to see your meals!
Vegan nicoise salad made with vegan tuna and dressing, served platter style.
- Pulp of 6 carrots (juice and save the pulp)
- 1 cup vegan mayo + 1 tbsp vegan mayo
- 2 tbsp smashed capers
- 1 tsp miso
- 2 tsp grain mustard or dijon + 1 tsp grain mustard
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried dill + 1 tsp dried dill
- 1 clove fresh garlic, minced + 5 garlic cloves, minced
- Juice of 1 lemon + Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 6 wax potatoes, peeled
- 1 bag of mixed greens, cleaned
- 3 plum tomatoes, washed and thinly sliced
- 1 cup of pitted olives
- 1/2 tsp black pepper grinds
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like, omit if you don't like spice)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dried tarragon
- In a medium pot, add a pinch of salt and boil 8 cups of water, add potatoes and boil until fully cooked.
- Once cooked, coat with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in oven at 400* F until very lightly brown.
- Let cool completely.
- Clean, peel and juice your carrots. Save the pulp in a medium bowl and set aside the juice. Make sure the pulp is fluffy and dry.
- Add 1 cup of mayo, capers, miso, 1 tsp mustard, garlic powder, 1 tsp of dill, 1 clove of garlic, and juice of one lemon to the bowl and gently mix well.
- Cover and set in fridge while working on the rest of the salad.
Mix together 1 tbsp of vegan mayo, pinch of black pepper, red wine vinegar, 1/2 of juiced lemon, pinch of red pepper flakes, 5 garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp dill, tarragon, and 1 tsp of mustard until well blended.
Thinly slice tomatoes and sprinkle with desired herbs, salt and pepper.
On a large platter, lay out lettuce leaves evenly. In neat sections add the vegan tuna salad, olives, tomatoes, cooled potatoes, cup of dressing, and herbs of choice. Sprinke with desired herbs, salt and pepper.
Skip the red pepper flakes if you dont like any spice.