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This Nicoise-inspired spring salad is loaded with classic blanched potatoes and green beans, fresh veggies, salty capers and olives, and finished with a creamy shallot vinaigrette. 

A beautiful white oval platter filled with a vegan Nicoise salad made with green beans, tomatoes, radish, artichoke hearts, avocado, tomatoes, potatoes, edible flowers, and dill. A small bowl of creamy shallot vinaigrette dressing on the side.

As I write up this post, Easter is just a couple of days away. Everything is feeling very Spring as our flowers have burst open and we’re experiencing a super-bloom of color here in California after a rainy winter. I was craving something really colorful and fresh this week, and this beautiful Nicoise inspired spring salad was the result. 

While Italian food is more my forte, we are planning a summer trip to France this year so I have all things French on my mind. This spring salad is colorful, flavorful, unique, and easy to make-ahead. It would be perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, or any spring or summer brunch. Let’s check out how to make it! 

What is Nicoise Salad? 

A beautiful Nicoise salad platter with green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, capers, olives, and avocado on a marble countertop with shallot vinaigrette on the side.

Salade niçoise originated in Nice, France. There are many variations on Nicoise salad, but the core ingredients from its inception are: tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, anchovies, and olive oil. According to Wikipedia, It wasn’t until about 100 years ago that green beans and potatoes were added. Apparently doing so has remained quite controversial.

Nowadays, I often see this salad topped with canned or seared tuna, and Ina even has one with salmon. I love a traditional recipe, but I also love creative updates, and the Nicoise salad seems like the perfect recipe to make your own. In this vegan Nicoise spring salad, we’ve skipped the seafood and boiled eggs. 

How to Make Spring Nicoise Salad

There are a few steps to making this spring salad. We’ll need to blanch the green beans and potatoes, cut up the fresh veggies, and make the vinaigrette. 

Green beans boil in a large red pot.

Step 1: Boil the Green Beans

We do not want mushy cold green beans here! Just 2 minutes should do it. Haricots verts (French green beans) would be even better here, though they cook a little more quickly. 

Small yellow potatoes boil in a large copper pot.

And the Potatoes 

The cooked veggies should be tender but not mushy. 

Cooked green beans in a bowl of ice water on a marble counter.

Step 2: Ice Bath

Immediately submerge the hot green beans and potatoes in an ice bath. This serves two purposes. First, it stops the cooking. Second, it keeps the green beans nice an vibrantly green. Drain and transfer them to a towel to dry. You want to avoid a lot of excess water on them. 

Step 3: Shallot Vinaigrette for Nicoise Salad

The ingredients for a shallot vinaigrette in a Vitamix blender for a Nicoise salad dressing.

Homemade dressing is so easy and so worth taking the time to make. Some other favorites are Lemon Tahini Dressing, Apple Cider Vinaigrette, Avocado Dressing, Orange Vinaigrette, and Oil-Free Balsamic Vinaigrette. For this shallot vinaigrette, everything gets tossed into the blender to combine. 

A small white bowl and spoon filled with creamy shallot dijon vinaigrette is the dressing for Nicoise salad.

The result is smooth and creamy. For the acid, you can use vinegar (Champagne vinegar is lovely here) or lemon juice, depending on preference. I personally prefer vinegar.  

Step 4: Arrange the Salad

Close-up food photography of Nicoise salad with avocado, tomato, capers, green beans, and potatoes.

This is the fun, creative part. Nicoise salad is typically not tossed. Ingredients are separated in the bowl or platter. I love this idea and it’s how I’ve shown you my favorite Mediterranean Lentil Salad and Greek Chickpea Salad in the past. I like to group ingredients by color – keeping like colors apart. For example, the green beans are not right next to the cucumber, but next to highly contrasting tomatoes. 

 

Spring Nicoise Salad Tips & Tricks

  • Make this salad and vinaigrette in the morning, cover, and refrigerate until ready. Don’t add avocado until just before serving or it may turn brown. 
  • Use a variety of colors and textures 
  • Nicoise olives are ideal, but if you can’t find them, use kalamata
  • If you would like a simpler vinaigrette, skip the shallot and just whisk together olive oil, champagne or white wine vinegar, Dijon, salt and pepper. 
  • If you love greens (I do!) serve this spring salad on a bed of arugula or baby lettuces. 
Yield: Serves 8

Spring Nicoise Salad

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

A beautiful spring salad inspired by the French Nicoise salad. This Nicoise salad platter is loaded up with tomatoes, green beans, potato, artichoke hearts, capers, cucumber, olives, and radishes and served with a creamy shallot vinaigrette. A spring salad that's perfect for Easter, Mother's Day, or any spring to summer brunch. This Nicoise salad is vegan and gluten-free.

Spring Nicoise Salad

Ingredients

Nicoise Salad

  • 3/4 pound small potatoes
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced crosswise
  • 1 heaping cup halved mini heirloom tomatoes (or 2 sliced large tomatoes or a mix)
  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 1 small jar artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/2 cup Nicoise olives, pitted (or Kalamata)
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • edible flowers, for garnish (optional)

Shallot Vinaigrette

  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once the potatoes are cold, drain them and let dry on a towel. Cut in half.
  2. Meanwhile, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender crisp. Drain the green beans and add to the ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the bright green color. Once the beans are cold, drain and let dry on a towel.
  3. To assemble the salad, choose a large platter. Arrange the green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, radish, olives, avocado, and artichoke hearts in separate sections around the platter. Sprinkle the capers and dill over the whole platter.
  4. To make the dressing, place the shallot, vinegar, syrup, mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper into a blender. Blend until smooth and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle a little dressing over the salad and serve the rest on the side.

Notes

  • Make this salad and vinaigrette in the morning, cover, and refrigerate until ready. Don’t add avocado until just before serving or it may turn brown. 
  • Use a variety of colors and textures 
  • Nicoise olives are ideal, but if you can’t find them, use kalamata
  • If you would like a simpler vinaigrette, skip the shallot and just whisk together olive oil, champagne or white wine vinegar, Dijon, salt and pepper. 
  • If you love greens (I do!) serve this spring salad on a bed of arugula or baby lettuces. 


Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 194 Total Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 198mg Carbohydrates: 24g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 7g Protein: 4g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.