This salad could not come at a better time for me. Summer months often mean lots of travel and when that’s the case I’m usually in need of a little reset. Yes, veggies are involved but resetting to me is definitely not just a bunch of raw vegetables. It’s about simple, real food – like this nicoise salad – that leaves you feeling satisfied but not stuffed and not like you want to dig into a bucket of french fries after. But if you do, there are always these baked ones 🙂
I’ve been playing around with the idea vegan “tuna” for a while but I’m not a big fan of trying to imitate meat. I like the real deal or good ol’ whole vegetables. I decided to give it another try when I saw a version from Green Kitchen Stories. Sunflower seeds have the ability to transform when soaked to make a perfect stand in for tuna but also in other creative ways like in this risotto from My New Roots. I’ve tweaked my vegan “tuna” slightly from GKS’s original version – it still has an umami, salty quality like all good tuna salads and is delicious in it’s own right.

nicoise salad with vegan “tuna”
Makes 4 salads or 1 family style (with leftover vegan tuna)

For the vegan tuna

(barely adapted from Green Kitchen Stories)

  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked in water for 6 hours or overnight
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers + brine
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


For the dressing

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Pink salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For the salad

  • 10 – 12 new potatoes or fingerling potatoes (about a pound), boiled in salted water until tender and halved or quartered
  • 2 handfuls green beans or haricot verts, blanched
  • 1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 12 cup pitted Kalamata or sun-dried olives
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • Handful of chives, chopped

Make the dressing: mince garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle heavily with salt; using a knife, scrape garlic and salt together to form a smooth paste. Transfer paste to a bowl and whisk in oil, juice, mustard, shallot, and salt and pepper; set aside.

Make the tuna: Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor. Season to taste with lemon and salt, as needed.

Assemble the salad: Toss potatoes with just enough dressing to lightly coat. Arrange lettuce in bowls and in sections add the cucumber, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, olives, and a big scoop of the tuna. Drizzle additional dressing over the salad and top with the chives. Enjoy!