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Asparagus Nicoise Salad is a springtime twist on the classic French Nicoise Salad. With fresh asparagus swapped in for green beans, tender new potatoes, eggs as they only are at the height of spring and a zesty dressing complete with fresh lemon juice and capers, it's a salad that I look forward to all year long.
Despite the chilly weather today, I know that spring is coming.
Here in the High Desert of Oregon, we have one-sixth of the growing season of our former Seattle home. So it's not surprising that the trees here are not yet in bloom and I haven't seen a single spring flower. But promises sprout from our garden: garlic, hyacinth, daffodils, tulips, peonies.
When spring is close, I start to crave salads. After months of winter's hearty soups and stews, roasted meats and vegetables, I welcome tender asparagus, delicate pea shoots, new potatoes, and spring eggs with their deep golden yolks - the ingredients that make up this Asparagus Nicoise Salad. (Delicious with quality canned tuna, but also wonderful with Grilled Tuna Steaks.)
You can stick with a spring greens mix for this salad, but have you tried pea shoots? If you like snow peas, you've got to try them. They're tender-crunchy, subtly sweet, and so versatile. I love them raw in salads, for crunch on sandwiches, stirred into pasta, or quick sautéed with garlic in olive oil.
You'll find them at many farmer's markets and some grocery stores, or you can grow them yourself; here's a beautiful way. If you can't find them on their own, look for salad mixes that include them, they add a distinctly spring flavor and texture to this salad. Serve this on it's own or paired with a cup of French Onion Soup for a hearty, Parisian meal. And for a bit of sparkle, add a few spears of Pickled Asparagus.
More Spring Salads
If you're in a spring salad kind of mood, here are a couple of other must-try recipes: Strawberry Spinach Salad and Sugar Snap Pea Salad. And for another spring favorite, Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus or Grilled Bacon Wrapped Asparagus make great appetizers or side dishes.
Asparagus Nicoise Salad
For the vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
- 1 small shallot chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ cup Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil or more
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the salad:
- 1 pound baby red potatoes
- 1 pound fresh asparagus woody ends trimmed
- 4 cups fresh pea shoots or 6-8 ounces spring greens
- 8 radishes thinly sliced
- 4 eggs boiled to desired degree of doneness, peeled and halved
- 2 cans high-quality tuna drained
- Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender except for the olive oil (chives through vinegar); puree. With blender running, slowly add olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (you can make this a day ahead and refrigerate)
- Place potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover by 1-inch. Bring to a gentle boil, add a small handful of salt and cook for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain and let cool for 5 minutes or more.
- Meanwhile, fill a 13" x 9" baking dish halfway with ice water. Cook asparagus in a large skillet of boiling, salted water for 1 to 3 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. Transfer asparagus to ice water to cool. Drain asparagus and pat dry. Dry baking dish and place asparagus and reserved potatoes in it and gently toss with ¼ cup of the vinaigrette to coat.
- Spread pea shoots or spring greens on 1 large platter or 4 individual plates. Arrange potatoes, asparagus, radishes, eggs, and tuna on greens. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve.
Love it! 🙂 asparagus is very good for health but actually I didn't know how to process it. Thank you for your recipe that I can follow it to make
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
Love a Nicoise salad and would gladly swap the green beans for delicious asparagus.
Always fun to swap in the season's best! Thank you, Karen.
Faith (An Edible Mosaic) says
What an absolutely stunning salad! I've never tried pea shoots (that I can remember, anyway), but I'll be on the lookout for them. What a lovely way to usher in spring.
Thank you, Faith! Definitely keep an eye out for pea shoots - you'll love them, I promise.
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
This is totally my kind of salad Marissa! Love all the healthy ingredients and the light dressing. So springy!
Thank you , Mary Ann!
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
We are definitely seeing spring here in NC because everything is COVERED in pollen. My sinuses are pissed. lol. 😉 I'm sending all the spring vibes your way, my dear. Although, honestly I would just stay indoors, eat this gorgeous salad on repeat and call it an "official" spring day. This is just perfect, Marissa! While I love a classic Nicoise Salad, I am swooning over your springtime version! This looks so fresh and just fabulous! I could totally eat this every day of my life! Pinned! Cheers! <3
Thank you, my friend! We've got pollen time on the horizon - my least favorite part of spring. Last year, we had so much that we could sweep it into glowing yellow piles!!
Helen @ Scrummy Lane says
What a wonderful way to add the new season's produce into something familiar.
This truly sounds and looks delicious, Marissa! 🙂
Thanks so much, Helen! xo
Your pictures are so beautiful! Im glad that spring is coming/has arrived, sending some SoCal sun up to Oregon
Thank you, Cara! Just checked out your blog - you've got some pretty gorgeous photos yourself. 🙂
Dorothy Dunton says
Hi Marissa. What a lovely fresh salad and, as usual, your eggs are perfection. Gary just picked our first asparagus yesterday, all four stalks of it. We are due to get rain tomorrow which will encourage more of it to pop.
Hi Dorothy! I'm so jealous of that garden of yours! Four stalks is a good start... 😉 Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.
David @ Spiced says
Don't you love when the plants just start to peek out of the ground? It's a sure sign that warmer days are coming! It looks like you guys might be a week or two ahead of us in the growing season...our plants are just starting to break through the ground here. But I hear ya on the changes. Our growing season up here is half what it was down in Atlanta! Anyways, this nicoise salad. I was actually just thinking last night that I could go for a nicoise salad, and then I open up the interwebs this morning to see this! Perfect timing...and I love the asparagus twist! 🙂
That makes me happy, David! I hope you'll try it this spring - in fact, bring the family over and I'll make it for you! 🙂
Have a wonderful weekend!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Yum!! We're going into the opposite season here and we are saying goodbye to fresh salads and moving to roasted vegetable salads. This looks wonderful!
Thank you, Lorraine! It's funny isn't it - having opposite seasons as food bloggers? I'm always stowing recipes away for the right season.