Une Salade Lyonnaise from Paris

Frisée aux lardons et aux œufs, a parisian twist on a Salade Lyonnaise

 

Walking through the Croix Rousse market in early spring, witnessing the eclipse of fresh tender spring produce with bitter winter greens always creates a certain feeling.  The cute little vegetables pushing forth from damp freshly-thawed soil get all the attention, while their older siblings hold the line and provide us with firm footing into the spring season. How to encompass both is on our minds.

 

When seasons change, there’s a shuffle at the Market. The early spring push for change is in the air.  While we peel off layers of scarves, we air our winter-softened fingers and pick through the tender new offerings.

Basket full, a moment on a bench that overlooks the Jardin de la Grande Côte is a welcome break.

A Parisian salade Lyonnaise with bistro vinaigrette.

Like the dare in a stolen kiss, the cool breeze that sweeps between two rivers gains speed, plunges over the hill we call les Pentes de la Croix Rousse, and bends the cherry and mulberry branches.

 

Early spring at the Marché de la Croix-Rousse

The wind brings scents of earth and strengthens the branches holding swelling buds of spring.

Tromping boots no longer beat like drums in winter rhythm at the Marché de la Croix Rousse. Early spring at the market is never the revolution we’ve been hoping for, but it has opened the senses to ideas of clement sun-bathed days to come, and things to cook.

Wedges of winter squash, cabbage, chicory, endives, leeks and potatoes provide the backdrop of a previous season, and colorful tender primeurs have begun to make their show at the market. We’ve gathered up handfuls of foraged tender dandelion shoots from the farm stands, replete the with tight buds of not yet bloomed yellow flowers.

A seller on the market marked them “dent de Lyon”, pointing firmly to the salad that has always been here, that salad that allows for little variation because perfection is in simplicity.

Salade Lyonnaise, a staple on tables

La Cuisine Lyonnaise is found lurking in the recesses of every gastronome’s love of earthly delights, whether they are aware of it or not.

Clotilde Dusoulier does not mention Lyon in this particular recipe, but anyone heralding from Lyon would spot the similarities to our national salad right away, inspiring us to roll up our sleeves and tie on our aprons, immediately.

Like many regional specialties, this salad is now a staple on tables more than a stone’s throw from Lyon.

Enough so that my friend Clotilde Dusoulier thought to feature a version of it in her excellent new cookbook, Tasting Paris, 100 Ways to Eat Like a Local.

I think it is her best book yet, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to be reminded of the beauty in simplicity that cooking simple French classics on a daily basis can bring.  I must mention we are friends.  Of course, I am biased when it comes to this particular work.

So without further ado, I share with you the recipe for Clotilde Dusoulier’s Parisian Salade Lyonnaise, which she names Une salade de frisée aux lardons et aux oeufs.

If you want the authentic Salade Lyonnaise, of course you’ll be poaching the eggs.  Interestingly in this recipe however, Clotilde introduces a wonderful new, no-fuss way of cooking them: by steaming.

You should try it, even if you are a purist.  It’s simple to adjust to your taste in yolk runniness, not to mention the fact that she solves the problem of sticky peels on fresh eggs.

We prepared this is class as a first course last weekend and it was thoroughly enjoyed by one and all.

 

RECIPE: Salade Lyonnaise, Parisian Style, by Clotilde Dusoulier

 

Serves 4

Lettuce and dandelion are great for this salad.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 slices (about 5 ounces / 150 grams) thick cut bacon, cut into short, thin strips to make lardons
  • 8 cups frisée lettuce (also called chicory or curly endive), with dandelion greens and chopped escarole

 

Bistro Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grape seed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh walnut oil
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4-6 steamed eggs, shelled and halved

 

Quick Croutons

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (60 grams) cubed day-old baguette
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, to garnish

 

METHOD:

In a dry skillet over medium heat, cook the lardons, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 minutes. Scoop into a bowl.  (keep the rendered fat for another use.)

Frisée aux lardons with croutons

 

Make the Bistro Vinaigrette:

In a medium sized bowl, combine the shallot, salt, and vinegar with a wooden spoon.

Let rest for 10 minutes to take the edge off the shallot.  Stir in the mustard.  Pour in the oil slowly, stirring all the while to create an emulsion.

Sprinkle generously with pepper.  Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Lucy’s note:  we added local walnut oil to the vinaigrette in accordance with one of Clotilde’s suggested variations, as it harmonizes so beautifully with the bitterness that the frisée contributes to this salad.

 

Steam the eggs:

Set up a steamer, bringing the water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath by placing a dozen ice cubes in a medium bowl and filling it with ice-cold water.

Put the eggs in the steamer basket, cover, and steam for 7 to 12 minutes, depending on how you want your eggs.

Transfer the eggs using a slotted spoon or tongs into the ice bath to cool enough to handle.

To peel, tap each egg gently on the counter to crack the shell all over, then peel it off.

Lucy’s note:  Using our stove and usual eggs, we found perfection at about 5 minutes runny, 8 minutes firm but soft yolk.

 

Make the croutons:

In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  When it foams, add the bread and salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

The croutons will crisp as they cool.

Lucy’s note:  We heated the butter to beurre noisette stage: that is until the foam subsides and the milk solids in the butter begin to caramelize just slightly before adding the bread cubes, to boost the nutty golden flavor of the croutons.

 

In a large bowl, dress the salad greens with the bistro vinaigrette.  Divide them among the salad plates, forming nests.  Top with the halved eggs and sprinkle with the bacon strips, croutons and fresh herbs.

 

This recipe (minus Lucy’s notes) is found on page 61 of : Tasting Paris, 100 recipes to eat like a local, by Clotilde Dusoulier, 2018, Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York.

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