It saves time if you already have hard-boiled eggs and cold cooked potatoes in the fridge. I tossed almost every ingredient separately in some of the vinaigrette before composing the salad.
Salade niçoise is a composed salad, meaning ingredients are placed beside each other instead of tossed. I think it's a more interesting way of eating because it turns the salad into a more tapas-like experience. Composed salads have also been the subject of some very engaging culinary writing. I found this article in The Guardian and this one in the NY Times.
It might be hard to tell by the picture but it was a very big salad and we surprised ourselves by eating the whole thing in one sitting!
two handfuls green beans, topped and tailed
10-12 cold cooked little red potatoes, halved
half a red onion, sliced
handful quartered marinated artichoke hearts
handful marinated Kalamata olives
four anchovies from a jar
flaked tuna from a jar
one Boston lettuce head, leaves lightly torn
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
a pinch of Dijon mustard
one clove garlic, minced
a shake of cracked black pepper
100 ml olive oil
Mix the vinaigrette and set aside. Fill a big bowl with ice and water.
Blanche the green beans for two minutes in boiling water until bright green. Remove from the boiling water with a sieve spoon and put in the ice water to stop the cooking process. Set the beans aside.
Using the same pot of boiling water, skin the tomatoes. Cut a small "X" in the skin at each end. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water for 30 seconds. Then put them in the bowl of ice water for a minute or two. Peel away the skins. Cut the tomatoes in quarters. Set aside.
Hard boil the eggs. Peel and halve. Set aside.
Wash the lettuce and dry the leaves, tearing the big ones in half.
Put some vinaigrette in a bowl. Add the salad leaves and lightly toss. Place the leaves in the bottom of a shallow serving dish. Toss the beans, then the potatoes, and lastly the tomatoes and onions together in the vinaigrette before placing each ingredient on top of the lettuce. Finally, arrange the remaining ingredients on the leaves: tuna, olives, artichokes, hard-boiled eggs, anchovies. Serve with crusty bread.