It’s hard to improve upon a classic Niçoise salad. The combination of juicy tomatoes, oil-packed tuna, haricots verts and briny olives is so simple, yet so fresh and delicious. Enter the Spring Niçoise, a crunchy, colorful and (almost) too-pretty-to-eat version of this iconic French salad that makes use of what is popping up in farmers markets right now. While it takes a little time to blanch your vegetables and cook your eggs and potatoes, this salad is otherwise quite easy to assemble with everything piled on a big platter. Drizzle with a punchy red wine vinaigrette and you have a light spring dinner for two or a show-stopping starter for your Easter brunch. Serve with a chilled bottle of white wine and a crusty baguette to complete the meal.
In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard, anchovy and shallot. Season with salt and pepper. While whisking constantly, slowly stream in both oils until the vinaigrette is thick and emulsified. Stir in the capers and dill and season with salt and pepper.
Prepare the salad
In a medium pot, add the potatoes and cover with water. Season with salt. Bring a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes and transfer to a clean kitchen towel to drain. Do not dump the boiling water.
Prepare a large bowl of ice water. In the pot of boiling water, gently lower in the eggs and cook for 7 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the prepared ice bath. Let cool for 5 minutes, then peel while still slightly warm. Do not dump the boiling water.
In the pot of boiling water, blanch the haricot verts and asparagus until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well and transfer to the prepared ice bath. Let cool completely, then drain and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
On a large plate or platter, arrange the gem lettuce leaves. In a small bowl, toss the cooked potatoes with 2 Tablespoons of the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Pile next to the lettuce. Arrange the asparagus, haricot verts, fennel, radishes, tuna, olives and artichoke hearts on the platter. Using your fingers, tear the soft boiled eggs in half and arrange on the salad yolk side up. Drizzle the salad with more vinaigrette and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve right away.