Tuna Nicoise Pasta Salad, inspired by the classic French Salade Niçoise, is an elevated tuna pasta salad that’s sure to become a family favorite. The perfect combination of hearty ingredients and bright, bracing flavor, this salad can be enjoyed as an entree or side.
This recipe post is sponsored by DeLallo. I was compensated for my time, however all opinions are my own.
Why You’ll Love this Tuna Nicoise Pasta Salad:
Nicoise Salad – or in French, Salade Nicoise – is a classic salad originating from the city of Nice in Provence, France. As with many beloved traditional recipes, there are some steadfast arguments over what goes into a proper nicoise salad.
However the generally agreed inclusions include boiled eggs, tomatoes, olives, and some kind of salted preserved fish. And while many nicoise salads include potatoes or beans, this version leans on whole-wheat pasta to create a hearty, satiating salad.
This tuna pasta salad is truly unlike any other pasta salad recipe I have tried. The combination of fresh vegetables, briny olives, and bold, bracing dressing make it infinitely more dimensional than your classic mayo-laden tuna salad. Plus, it can be made in advance, and enjoyed on repeat for days after.
While this salad is plenty hearty enough to enjoy as a stand-alone meal, it’s also a versatile side dish. Pair it with anything hot off the grill (burgers, salmon, chicken, etc.), a sandwich, or bowl of soup.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions:
- DeLallo Organic Whole-Wheat Pasta: DeLallo pasta comes from where pasta was born, which is a region near Naples at the beginning of the Amalfi Coast. They use traditional pasta-making methods with an exclusive blend of the highest quality durum wheat, creating a product with supreme taste, texture, and aroma. For this salad, I used their casarecce, which is named for its “homemade” appearance—short, wide noodles that twist and curl.
- Tuna: This salad is definitely worth splurging on the gourmet jarred tuna (specifically Tonnino) over the canned stuff. The jarred tuna contains bigger, firmer pieces of fish, which are perfect for breaking up into the salad.
- Green Beans: If you can find French green beans (also called Haricots Verts), which are slightly longer and skinnier than regular green beans, go for them. Otherwise, classic green beans do the job just fine.
- Olives: Classic nicoise salads call for Niçoise olives, which have an intensely savory flavor. If you can find them, great! Otherwise, I suggest DeLallo pitted Castelvetrano olives, which offer irresistible buttery-sweet flavor and crisp, meaty texture.
- Tomatoes: You can’t beat the juicy bite of cherry (or grape) tomatoes.
- Eggs: Hard-boiled eggs are a staple in tuna nicoise salads. You can either quarter the eggs, or thinly slice/chop them.
- Dressing: A combination of extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, grainy mustard, garlic, and shallots create a bright, dimensional dressing.
Step 1: Prepare Dressing
In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, shallots, anchovies, garlic, salt, and pepper; whisk to combine. Set aside.
Step 2: Cook Pasta and Blanch Green Beans
Cook DeLallo Organic Whole-Wheat Pasta according to package instructions in a large pot of salted water until al dente. During the final 45 to 60 seconds, add green beans. Drain pasta and green beans, and give them a quick rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl or serving platter, and toss with half of the dressing.
Step 3: Assemble Salad
To the bowl or platter with pasta and green beans, add tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, olives, and tuna. Pour remaining dressing overtop, and garnish with fresh herbs, capers, and lemon wedges. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
Make-Ahead and Storage Tips:
- Make-Ahead: The dressing can be made up to 2 days ahead. Just note the garlic and onion-y flavor will intensify the longer it sits. If you’re a garlic lover, this is a VERY good thing. Otherwise, I suggest making it fresh.
- Storage: This tuna pasta salad will last up to 3 days refrigerated. After that, the egg and tuna scent can become a little overpowering. The salad will also dry out a bit after being refrigerated, so I suggest mixing in extra olive oil before serving.
What to Serve with Tuna Nicoise Pasta Salad:
There are many options here! This salad goes with most any main dish you’d find at a classic BBQ. A few suggestions:
- Burgers: Classic beef, Salmon Burgers, Black Bean Burgers, or even Wild Rice Burgers.
- Skewers: Chicken, steak, or Tofu Skewers.
- Soup: Double down on the Mediterranean goodness by serving this Lemony Greek Chickpea Soup on the side.
- Sandwich: Crispy Eggplant Sandwich, anyone?
You also can enjoy it as we do: all on its own as a healthy, all-in-one meal.
More Pasta Salad Recipes to Try:
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Tuna Niçoise Pasta Salad
- Large Stock Pot or Dutch Oven
- Mixing bowls
- 12 oz. dry DeLallo Organic Whole-Wheat Casarecce Pasta
- 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. DeLallo Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 oil-packed anchovies, minced
- 1 Tbsp. minced shallots
- 2 tsp. whole-grain mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tsp. each kosher salt and black pepper
- 6 oz. haricots verts (or green beans), trimmed and halved
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered or thinly sliced
- 6 oz. oil-packed tuna, broken into pieces (such as Tonnino brand)
- 1/4 cup DeLallo pitted Calamata or Castelvetrano olives, halved
- capers and fresh chopped dill for garnish
- Cook DeLallo Organic Whole-Wheat Pasta according to package instructions in a large pot of salted water until al dente. During final 45 to 60 seconds, add green beans. Drain pasta and green beans, and give them a quick rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl or serving platter.While pasta boils, prepare dressing by combining olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, shallots, anchovies, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl; whisk to combine. Pour half the dressing over cooked pasta and green beans; toss to combine.Add tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, olives, and tuna. Pour remaining dressing overtop, and garnish with capers and fresh dill. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.