What is salade lyonnaise, you ask?
It’s a classic French bistro salad, a very simple combination of frisée, bacon, egg and a mustardy dressing. What’s interesting about it—aside from its, you know, classic Frenchness—is its amazing combination of flavors and textures: salty, tangy, bitter, crunchy, creamy, rich. For just a few basic ingredients, this salad packs a big punch. This, plus a nicely grilled steak and a hunk of bread, makes a fine dinner, and it’s perfect on its own as a light but protein-packed lunch.
When I saw that Vicky Tewes of Thistlehair Farm in Northern Kentucky had fresh local frisée—the wiry, slightly bitter green that forms the foundation of salade lyonnaise—I knew I had to make it for dinner. And I promised Vicki that I’d share the recipe. So here you go.
While this is not a fussy salad recipe, it is important to get the egg right. I’ve tried several cooking methods, and have determined that a lightly poached egg is ideal for salade lyonnaise. You want the white cooked through and the yolk warm and runny, so it combines with the dressing to envelop the frisée in a rich and lovely way.
salade lyonnaise recipe
1 large head frisée (curly endive), washed and spun dry
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 large eggs, as fresh as you can get them
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
for the dressing:
1/3 cup white-wine or champagne vinegar
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
Make the dressing: Add all the ingredients to a lidded glass jar, cover and shake vigorously to combine and emulsify the dressing.
Make the salad: Tear or slice the frisée into bite-size pieces and transfer it to a large bowl. Season the lettuce with a pinch of sea salt. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat; add the bacon and cook until it's crisp and brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on a plate lined with paper towel.
Just before assembling the salads, poach the eggs (here's a how-to on poaching eggs, if you're unsure of the technique). Remove the eggs to a bowl while you work quickly to assemble the salad. Toss the frisée with some of the dressing until it's well-coated; divide the lettuce among 4 serving plates. Top each salad with cooked bacon and a poached egg, seasoning with more sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Serve at once.