The Ultimate Niçoise Salad

By Maggie Brooks | Boston Magazine |

WITH SPRING JUST ABOUT HERE, you know what comes next: rejiggering the diet to accommodate a warm-weather wardrobe. Enter the niçoise salad, a classic combo of protein (thick chunks of tuna — usually poached — and bits of hard-boiled egg), greens (simply dressed), and all the requisite flavor accessories (potatoes, tomatoes, crunchy green beans, olives, and anchovies). To kick-start your season, go for the version at Aquitaine, where seared coriander-crusted tuna blows away the typical poached offerings, and a fragrant lemon vinaigrette brightens without saturating the dish. It’s colorful, light, and refreshing — much like spring itself. Aquitaine, 569 Tremont St., Boston, 617-424-8577, aquitaineboston.com.

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Gaslight
***1/2
Choose between oil-cured or seared tuna over mixed greens with egg, green beans, tomato, and olives. The highlight: bright basil vinaigrette to keep the tuna moist without weighing the vegetables down. 560 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-422-0224, gaslight560.com.

Bistro du Midi ***
The winning component here is excellent-grade tuna confit. Unfortunately the excess pepper was so overwhelming, the other flavors were lost. 272 Boylston St., Boston, 617-426-7878, bistrodumidi.com.

Kingston Station ***
Herb-crusted seared tuna added great texture, but too many herbs distracted from the fish.  The addition of shaved parmesan was a nice finishing touch, however. 25 Kingston St., Boston, 617-482-6282, kingstonstation.com.

Foundry on Elm **1/2
The olive-oil-poached tuna was cooked perfectly, but couldn’t make up for an otherwise mushy collection of ingredients. Watch out for olive pits. 255 Elm St., Somerville, 617-628-9999, foundryonelm.com.

Brasserie Jo **
Slightly overcooked tuna and too much vinegar in the dressing killed the flavor of this salad. Colonnade Hotel, 120 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-425-3240, brasseriejo.com.

Les Zygomates **
The addition of purple potatoes was a nice twist, but stringy tuna and too much salt took away any of their colorful fun. 129 South St., Boston, 617-542-5108, winebar.com.