There’s really no room for inferior ingredients to hide in this salad, so use the best produce and canned tuna you can find; I especially like ventresca-style tuna, which tastes rich and flakes beautifully.
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Vary the vegetables. In place of favas, try blanched, cooled green beans. Boiled, cooled, and sliced new potatoes are a popular addition in bistros in Paris, while lettuce, celery, or cucumbers would add refreshing crunch.
Pick your preferred olive. Niçoise olives, small olives with an intensely savory flavor, are—perhaps obviously—the classic choice. They’re not easy to pit, so they’re almost always sold and served unpitted. Feel free to swap them for other brine-cured olives, such as Kalamatas, if you prefer.
Simplify the dressing. I like a mustardy vinaigrette paired with the salad, but it’s also common to simply drizzle it with some extra-virgin olive oil and maybe a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Omit the whole anchovies. I love anchovies, and they’re even more traditional than tuna. But they’re polarizing, and lots of people are squeamish when faced with a fillet. You can skip serving them whole, but keep the deep savory flavor they provide by mashing a fillet or two to a paste and whisking it into the vinaigrette.
Use fresh tuna instead of canned. Though many would argue that the bold flavor of canned tuna is integral to a Niçoise salad, there’s no law saying you can’t use slices of grilled or seared fresh tuna instead.
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