Salad Niçoise with Mayo-Free Tuna Salad


A twist on the classic Salad Niçoise

Looking back at recent blog posts this month, I realized that the recipes I have posted thus far have taken on a rather Asian theme. Okay, I can’t help it. I love Asian foods and a good portion of what I cook at home is at least Asian-inspired. So today I’ll give you something a little different and head to a French-inspired twist on the classic Niçoise salad.

A traditional salad Niçoise consists of a colorful mix of salad greens topped with tuna, hard-boiled egg, green beans, tomatoes, anchovies, and sometimes new potatoes, ala Julia Child’s version. The salad ingredients are usually tossed in a lemon-based vinaigrette. Fancy versions of this salad call for fresh, seared tuna. Okay, let’s be honest. I like fancy. And I love fresh, seared ahi tuna probably a little bit more than the average person. But I don’t usually have the time, energy, or funds to be hunting around for fresh ahi tuna especially out here in the land-locked Midwest. So in my recipe, I make a bit of a bastardized version of the traditional Niçoise and do away with both the vinaigrette and the fresh tuna by concentrating most of the flavor in a super easy “tuna salad” – the ingredients for which can, again, all be found at your friendly neighborhood TJ’s.

This is not your average, mayo-laden tuna salad. The trick to making a tuna salad that doesn’t rely on mayonnaise to keep it sticky enough to scoop is to use good quality canned tuna that is packed in olive oil. I get mine at Trader Joe’s (no surprise). TJ’s sells a solid light yellowfin tuna (…fancy!) in olive oil for $2.29. Just another thing to swoon over from TJ’s…


1. Capers, grainy mustard, persian cucumbers, green onion, red onion 2. Trader Joe’s solid light yellowfin tuna in olive oil 

A bit of mustard and a sprinkling of salty, briny capers brings the tuna salad to life. Persian cucumbers are seedless and crunchier (with less water content) than regular English cucumbers and are perfect for this salad. Green onions add the last bit of crunchy kick.



Mayo-less tuna salad 

The best thing about this tuna salad is that you can stop there. You don’t even need the rest of the salad greens if you’re not feeling like having a salad that day. You could sandwich it between slices of grainy, nutty bread with a slice of cheese (havarti is especially good here). Toast it in a panini press or toaster oven, or not. Or you can just eat it with some crackers and call it lunch. Versatility at its best!


Tuna salad panini!


This recipe makes enough tuna salad for 2 servings, meaning it is enough for two assembled salads, 1 salad + 1 sandwich, or… 1 meal of choice for a really hungry person.

For handy printable recipe, click HERE

Salad Niçoise with Mayo-Free Tuna Salad (recipe)

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5+ mins
Servings: 2


Tuna Salad

  • 5 oz solid light tuna in olive oil
  • 1 persian cucumber
  • 1.5 TBSP diced red onion
  • 2 sprigs green onion
  • 1 TBSP capers
  • ½ TBSP grainy mustard
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper

Remaining Salad Niçoise Components

  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 hardboiled eggs
  • ~20 petite green beans
  • 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Mixed salad greens
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • ½ TBSP olive oil


  1. Place 2 eggs into a pot of water, covering by 2 inches. Add ½ tsp salt and bring water to a boil. When water is boiling, add green beans and blanch for 30 seconds. Remove green beans with a slotted spoon into a colander and rinse under cold water to cool. Continue to boil eggs for 4 more minutes for a medium-cooked yolk. Remove hardboiled eggs and run under cold water to cool.
  2. Dice the persian cucumber and green onions. Combine all ingredients for the tuna salad (tuna, cucumber, red onion, green onion, capers, & grainy mustard, ¼ tsp salt). Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix well.
  3. Toss desired amount of mixed greens in 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar + ½ TBSP olive oil (or to taste). Peel and slice hardboiled egg in half. Arrange egg, tomatoes, blanched green beans and tuna salad on top of mixed greens. Serve immediately.

2 thoughts on “Salad Niçoise with Mayo-Free Tuna Salad

  1. Man I looked everywhere for tuna in trader joe’s! I KNEW they had it..ugh 😦 Thanks for the coconut water tip though..I’m absolutely hooked.

    • Hahaha yes, the tuna is in the section where they have the soup and spices and olives. 🙂 coconut water IS great! So refreshing and good for you. Glad you liked it!

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