How Gordon Ramsay Transforms The Dressing For Tuna Niçoise Salad

Gordon Ramsay has a unique way of transforming Tuna Niçoise, taking the iconic salad and adding a simple twist that makes it a smashing success. His secret — a mortar and pestle. It's not surprising that the Scottish-born UK chef would want to weigh in with some advice about the classic French salade Niçoise, as he trained with renowned master chefs Guy Savoy and Joel Robuchon in France in the early 90s.  According to BBC Good Food, though, it was while working on a yacht off the coast of the South of France that Ramsay first learned how to make the exquisite dish.  

If you've never had a Niçoise salad, it's typically comprised of a vibrant mix of green beans, tomatoes, new potatoes, Niçoise olives, boiled eggs, and sometimes capers, with either tuna or anchovies draped across the top. The standard dressing is a creamy lemon-forward, Dijon-thickened vinaigrette. Delicious as is, Ramsay's variation takes it to a whole new level of flavor and texture. "The secret behind my salad Niçoise is in the dressing," the chef revealed on his YouTube channel. Ramsay explains, "Some people top the salad with anchovies and capers, but in mine, they're the base to the dressing."

How to make a Niçoise salad dressing the Gordon Ramsay way(s)

Ramsay begins making his Niçoise salad dressing by putting a heaping spoonful of Dijon mustard into a mortar and pestle. He then adds a sprinkling of capers and about four to five anchovies to the bowl before grinding them down into a creamy paste. Next, he incorporates garlic, an ample grinding of black pepper, two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley into the mixture, blending with a spoon until evenly combined. He cautions not to add salt because the anchovies are naturally salty. The chef describes the finished dressing as "a thick, rich, substantial dressing."

The Kitchen Nightmares host offers a somewhat different take on his dressing on BBC Good Food where he deems the Niçoise "the finest summer salad of all." In that version, he still uses anchovies but substitutes Niçoise olives for capers and balsamic for red wine vinegar. He also adds lemon juice and leaves out the black pepper and parsley. So which of the two versions is better? You'll just have to try out both and make your own determination.