The French have this very strict attitude about meal time. I don’t just mean their behavior during meal time or what they’re eating. I’m talking about actual meal time. When it’s lunch time, there’s no keeping them away from their break and a glorious lunch salad like this frisée aux lardons, or salade lyonnaise.
Frisée aux lardons (Salade Lyonnaise)
Breakfast, should they choose to eat it, is early in the morning, lunch is from 12pm to 2pm, and dinner is 7pm and after. If you try to hop into a restaurant around 2:30 or 3pm, you better hope you have luck on your side that day as most restaurants begin to close down for the afternoon.
This is always an adjustment for me as I don’t always manage to eat within those time frames, especially when I’m dealing with jet lag and find myself waking up at odd times and looking for somewhere to eat in Paris!
If you find yourself hungry at 3pm, looking for a late lunch, your best bet is to stop into a boulangerie and grab a sandwich or head to a brasserie where you may find a tasty frisée aux lardons.
I love French salads. Most of them are made with a few simple ingredients, but they always taste so flavorful. Unlike the U.S., where we rely on heavy dressings and tons of salad ingredients, the French utilize 2 or 3 really flavorful ingredients, and then pair the salad with a light vinaigrette.
The classic frisée aux lardons, or salade lyonnaise, is the perfect example of this concept.
Traditionally, the salad is made with curly endive leaves, crispy pork fat, and a poached egg. It’s a great combination that can’t go wrong. But, I always like to add some sautéed leeks to my salad as well for just a little more oomph! Leeks are very similar to onions and, as such, add a ton of flavor to the salad.
For the vinaigrette, I keep it real simple. A 1:1 ratio of olive oil and white wine vinegar gets whisked together, along with a smidge of dijon mustard and a little bit of minced garlic. I pour this over the salad, top it with the fried egg, and then garnish with some freshly ground pepper and coarse sea salt.
I’m telling you that each bite of this salade lyonnaise is a party on your palate and truly makes you wonder how something so simple can taste so incredible.
Frisée aux lardons
Curly endive leaves dressed with dijon vinaigrette and topped with crispy bacon and a fried egg.
- 1 head of curly endive
- 2 stalks of leek white and pale green parts only, sliced
- 3 strips of bacon diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1/4 c white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 eggs
Break apart endive leaves, tearing them apart from each other and in half. Rinse the leaves well and temporarily set them aside to dry.
Cut each stalk of leek in half, lengthwise, before rinsing under water very well. Make sure you rinse each crevice to make sure you get rid of any grit. Slice the leeks in 1/4 inch slices.
In a medium saucepan, fry the diced bacon until crispy; set aside. Sauté the sliced leeks in this same pan until they’re tender - about 5 to 8 minutes.
Remove the leeks and fry the eggs in the same pan, cooking each egg for 2 minutes, before flipping and cooking the other side for another 15 to 20 seconds. Note: If pan looks dry before adding eggs, add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to keep eggs from sticking.
In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, dijon, a pinch of salt, and garlic together.
Toss the endive with the leeks, bacon, and just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the salad leaves. Plate the salad and top each salad with a fried egg. Sprinkle a little freshly ground pepper and some sea salt over the entire salad.
You will most likely end up with extra vinaigrette, which you can store in the fridge for later.