Spring or summer, a Nicoise salad full of fresh asparagus, baby potatoes, and seasonal produce is a wonderfully light dinner! I’ve paired my version with jarred tuna in olive oil for a recipe which takes advantage of the pantry as well as the garden.
One of the best things I discovered when I was stocking the pantry earlier this year is tuna jarred in olive oil. I always have cans on hand for basic sandwiches and the like, but tuna in a jar is a completely different thing! Just as convenient and shelf stable but ready to be part of a nice dinner whenever you are.
But what dinner to make?
A little thought and I knew the answer! Nicoise salad is often paired with seafood and celebrates fresh seasonal produce. Perfect for all the vegetables I’ve been getting at the farm stand recently and perfect for my jar of tuna.
What do you need?
- Asparagus – One bunch of medium spears. Break off the ends and you’re good to go.
- Baby Potatoes – I like either all yellow or a mix of colors.
- Jarred Tuna – In a glass jar with olive oil.
- Colorful Vegetables – Whatever is in season! I used cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, and spring onions.
- Eggs – Either soft or hard boiled.
- Olives/Capers – Kalamata or Nicoise olives and don’t forget the capers!
- Lemon Dressing – Lemon, olive oil, anchovy. A briny and tart dressing.
- Herbs – A scattering of basil leaves is a nice touch.
Note: The purple radishes I used here are daikon radishes. Another fun specialty radish is the watermelon radish. I usually find them at local farms.
How to make this
To make a spring Nicoise salad arrange blanched asparagus and boiled potatoes on a platter with jarred tuna and a variety of colorful sliced vegetables. Top with soft boiled eggs and a lemony dressing.
1. Blanch and Boil
There is a little bit of cooking involved here, but all this can be done ahead and held until you are ready to plate it up.
Potatoes – Put them in cold water, bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Then cool.
Asparagus – Break off the ends, then blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes, and into ice water to chill.
Eggs – Steam in a basket over boiling water, 7-8 minutes for soft boiled. 12-13 for hard.
2. Slice and Measure
Slice the vegetables you’ve chosen – here we have radishes, cucumbers, and spring onions and you can halve the tomatoes if you wish.
Measure out the olives and capers.
3. Mix the Dressing
Now whisk up olive oil with lemon juice, garlic, mustard, seasoning, and anchovy.
Tip: Don’t forget the anchovy! Just a little brightens the flavors and gives the dressing depth.
4. Arrange and Enjoy
Carefully pile up and fan out your different ingredients. Take the tuna out of the jar and break it up a bit as you arrange it on the platter. Pour over some of the dressing and sprinkle on the green onions and basil leaves.
Serve the salad with the remaining dressing alongside.
If you try my recipe for Spring Nicoise Salad, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Stay Safe, Annemarie
Spring Asparagus Nicoise Salad
- 1 lb baby potatoes, use either all yellow or a mix
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off
- 4 large eggs
- 1 jar tuna in olive oil
- 1 bunch small radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved if you wish
- 3 small cucumbers, cut lengthwise into sticks
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives, nicoise or kalamata
- 2-3 tbsp capers
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp anchovy paste, or 1 anchovy finely minced
- Potatoes: Scrub the potatoes and put them in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to keep the water at a simmer and cook for 12-15, or until tender. Drain and let cool.
- Asparagus: Fill a second pot with water (enough for the asparagus). Then set out a bowl with cold water and ice. Bring the pot to a boil, add asparagus, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and move asparagus to the ice water to cool.
- Eggs: Fill a saucepan with an inch or two of water. Bring to a boil. Place your eggs in a steamer basket. Put the basket in the saucepan (as you would normally when you are steaming) and cover the pan. Lower heat to medium and cook for 7-8 minutes.
- Fill a bowl with ice water and transfer the cooked eggs to the bowl. Chill for 15 minutes, then peel and slice them in half.
- Dressing: In a small bowl or cup, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
- Salad: Pull out a large platter to make a composed dish. Then arrange all the salad ingredients on the platter. Drizzle some of the dressing over and scatter scallions and basil leaves on top.
- Serve with the remaining dressing alongside.
- Make Ahead: You can prepare all the ingredients up to one day ahead. Keep things separated in sealed containers in the refrigerator. Once you are ready to serve, arrange on a platter, open the tuna, and pour on the dressing.
- Eggs - If you prefer hard boiled, increase the time to 12-13 minutes. (13 will be fully firm)
- Anchovy - For the best flavor do not skip this!
- Tuna - I used Tonnito Tuna Fillets in a glass jar.