I love the contrast of ingredients in a nicoise salad- crunchy beans, gooey egg and soft potatoes all served with a ‘creamy’ mustard dressing, it is simply perfect in my mind!
A non vegetarian variety would include tuna and anchovies however this salad is lacking nothing by missing out the fish, in fact swap the egg for some ripened avocado and this would still be an amazing vegan version of a winter nicoise salad.
So whats in a summer nicoise? Apart from the tuna and anchovies they could feature tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, capers, olives, cos lettuce and of course green beans. The usual suspects! You will find that everyone has their own twist on what they feel the ultimate classic should be, in my winter salad I’ve taken advantage of seasonal produce which is currently in abundance in the shops and used sprouts (purple ones!!!), red cabbage, carrots and spinach instead of lettuce. I also bought the most gorgeous kalamata olives from a local market to really bring the salad to life.
You still get this wonderful arrangement of colour and vibrance but it will taste soo much better than trying to buy tomatoes that taste of anything in the UK at winter.
I have cooked some of the ingredients such as potatoes, sprouts and green beans to make it a bit more digestible (and well yeah, potato!) but left the spinach, carrot and cabbage raw to add texture and also to enhance the vitality of the dish.
So….. Purple Sprouts! These have been available to buy in supermarkets in the UK since 2010 (and obviously from farmers markets a lot longer) but I personally have only just discovered them! As pictured above, I bought them on the stem! This is the only way I will buy sprouts now, they were cheaper and they by far outlived the bagged sprouts I had in the fridge. They taste slightly sweeter than a green sprout and less cabbagey so do give them a try if your uncertain about your love of sprouts.
My other latest love is Tarragon. Added to dressings it gives a delicious tang but with fragrance too. It’s really hard to describe the flavour of tarragon, some people have said it is like a mild liquorice, others have said it is in between rosemary and basil
The recipe below is based on what I like and the amount I would probably serve up as a main meal at lunch so do feel free to vary the amounts depending on how hungry you are!
Dairy Free, Vegetarian, Gluten Free
6 – 10 Sprouts
Large Handful Green Beans
4-6 New Potatoes
2 Large Carrots
Wedge of Red Cabbage
2 Organic Free Range Eggs
12 Kalamata Olives
2 Large Handfuls Spinach
Pumpkin Seeds and Pine Nuts for scattering
1 tblspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tspn Red Wine Vinegar
1 tspn Dijon Mustard
Bunch Mint leaves
Boil your eggs until they are just hard boiled and then cool them down, peel and slice.
Trim the ends off your green beans and trim and peel the outer leaves from your sprouts and put in a pan of boiling water with the new potatoes (unpeeled) and cook for approx 6-8 minutes until the potatoes are soft. If you have larger new potatoes I would recommend putting them in first for 3-4 minutes then adding green beans and sprouts until they are cooked. Once cooked put them to one side to allow to cool slightly.
Shred the carrots and cabbage and mix together with the cooked vegetables.
To make the dressing put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth! If it feels a bit thick then add more water, you want it to have a creamy consistency. I added water instead of oil to keep the calorie count down.
To assemble pile the spinach on to two plates then top with the sprouts, green beans, potatoes, carrot and cabbage. Dot the olives around and then lay one sliced egg onto each plate.
Pour the dressing over each salad and then scatter with a handful of pine nuts and pumpkin seeds to finish.