19 June 2012

Salade Lyonnaise

One positive thing about the rainy weather we've been having since the beginning of April is that the lettuces Walt planted in the garden have been and still are fantastic. They're full, leafy, and green. They've grown so vigorously that not even all the moisture-loving slugs and snails out there can keep them down.

Salade Lyonnaise the way we had it for lunch last week

The two varieties of lettuce Walt grew this spring are Laitue Romaine Blonde Maraîchère** and Chicorée Frisée Grosse (which is sometimes called "curly endive" in the U.S.). One head of either has been giving us two or three big tossed salads. With the Romaine, we've been making Caesar Salads with grilled chicken breasts, and today we're going to enjoy a Caesar Salad with hot-smoked salmon fillets that we made over the weekend with the help of our friend John, who has a smoker.

One Chicorée Frisée « Grosse » from the garden
filled up one side of our kitchen sink.

With the Chicorée Frisée, there are a lot of ways to make tasty salads. Frisée needs to be dressed with a mustardy, vinegary dressing flavored with garlic, onion, or shallot. Roasted red beets are a good accompaniment because their sweetness tones down the bitterness of the salad greens. Toasted walnuts or pecans do the same, and that kind of nutty salad is good with some chunks of Roquefort or blue cheese added in with the greens.

It's a good idea to dress and toss a Frisée salad in vinaigrette
15 or 20 minutes before you plan to serve it.
That wilts and tenderizes the greens.

Salade Lyonnaise is another standard French recipe that features Chicorée Frisée. You might see it called Frisée aux Lardons in cafés or restaurants in Paris or elsewhere in France. At least one recipe I found on the web (at Marmiton) calls for making the Lyon-style salad with dandelion greens, but these days it's more common to see it made with Frisée. Either way, it's a kind of bacon, eggs, and toast salad.

The Frisée washed and spun dry

The Lyon-style salad includes a couple of ingredients that also bring out the best flavors of bitter Frisée greens — smoked pork lardons (chunks of cooked bacon or ham) and freshly made croutons (cubes of toasted or fried bread, with garlic if you want). The dressing is the same kind of garlicky or oniony vinaigrette, heavy on the Dijon mustard. Finally, and literally to top it off, a lunch-size portion of Salade Lyonnaise will feature a couple of poached (or fried, or soft-boiled) eggs.

After the salad has "cooked" in vinaigrette, add the
pre-cooked bacon or ham and toss again. Do the
same with croutons if you use them.

That was our lunch a few days ago, though we didn't make croutons because we had a freshly baked and delivered baguette to eat with the salad, which was our main course. Instead, I boiled a couple of new potatoes and served them, sliced, on the side. The salad with eggs, lardons, and potatoes, plus some cheese afterward — and dessert — made a satisfying meal.

Here's a link to a good step-by-step recipe for Salade Lyonnaise, in French.

** The French word maraîcher (fem. maraîchère), describing a garden, translates into British English as "market garden(er)" but into American English as "truck farm(er)". I looked up "truck farmer" and was surprised to see that the "truck" in the expression comes not from the U.S. name of the vehicle that the farmer uses to take his produce to market, but from the French word « troc », meaning "barter" or "trade". The farmer barters or trades with his produce at the market.


  1. Language is a “drôle de truc” — truck/troc? Never thought about that meaning.

  2. I never thought I'd see that mistake in one your posts Ken..
    According to Merriam-Webster:
    Compliment: “an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration; especially : an admiring remark”.
    Complement:“something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect”
    This is one of my pet peeves and becoming so common in the written English language. And yes.. I'm a language snob :-)

  3. Thank you, Shellsea. I hesitated over which spelling to use, and I couldn't figure out how complement=complete applied in the context. Was I wrong? No snobbiness detected on this end.

    I just checked the usage notes in the American Heritage Dictionary and I see that the verb complement means "to complete" but also "to bring to perfection." That's the meaning I wanted, and I've corrected my post. Thanks.

  4. More on complement/compliment: I wonder in French how you would say that the taste of one ingredient "complements" the taste of another. Améliorer? La douceur des betteraves améliore le goût de la frisée? ...atténue l'amertume de la frisée? ...va bien avec...? I'm not sure I see how the French verb compléter would fit in this context.

  5. I guess the solution is to use the French adjective complémentaire...

    The idea in English is not so much that the flavors "complete" each other but that one enhances the other.

  6. I found it. It's mettre en valeur. La douceur de la betterave met en valeur l'amertume de la salade frisée. It's not a matter of completing or improving, but enhancing. One flavor emphasizes or highlights another flavor.

  7. As soon as I read Shellsea’s comment I went to my small Webster 1941 dictionary and looked at complement. It says: obsolete for compliment. So the meaning of both verbs is very ambiguous. English not being my native language I’ll leave it there.

    In French I think we could use complimenter, meaning it highlights or heightens the taste of the Frisée. We could also use complémenter*, which means it adds a little something to the aforementioned taste. Compléter would mean that it adds something that was missing and I don’t think it could be used in this context.

    *It seems complémenter is a new word [from English] which means add something to something and not make complete.

  8. chm, your explanation seems to be the most gramatically correct one. English is not my native language either but I use it a lot so I tend to "translate" from English to whatever language I am speaking/writing. Cela donne des resultats parfois assez bizarres..

    Ken, I wish my knowledge of the French vocabulary was as good as yours and I am a semi-native (Belgian)!

  9. I am not going to get into the compliment/complement discussion, think enough has been said.

    I do though love that Salade Lyonnaise it looks delicious. Diane

  10. Shellsea,
    I’m 1/8 Belgian myself, Charleroi/Siognies.

    Ken has a tremendous knowledge not only of the French language but also of its tricky grammar. I didn’t see his comments before I posted mine. If I had done so I would have said he found the exact wording for this exercise. Mettre en valeur is perfect, and says it all. As usual, to say the same things different languages use different ways.

  11. Thanks, CHM and Shellsea, all this discussion of the Latin-derived verbs compliment and complement makes me realize that it's better in English to come back to the Anglo-Saxon/Germanic roots of the language, for simplicity's sake: Beets "bring out the best in bitter greens" and "tone down" their bitterness — instead of "complementing" and "attenuating."

  12. Oh, and Diane, yes, that kind of salad is really delicious. Hope you make it soon, if you haven't already.

  13. Enjoyed this post and learned two things: marinate the frisee salad ahead of time and the hidden meaning of truck farmer.

    My dad sold produce from his half acre garden when he retired. When he was a young man he had something called a "rolling store". I think bartering was used in both enterprises.

  14. Wowza. I'd worry about that head of chicory coming after me after dark. Very impressive!

  15. Ahhhhh, more fresh produce from the Ken/Walt garden. Yumm!

    (That was a compliment, I think.:-)


  16. So I guess that you have resolved the baguette issue which you mentioned about just before your trip. The boulangerie was closed when you went in town to check why the baguette lady was not coming. Unless I missed some posts in between then and now .

  17. Chris, the sink that the head of Frisée is sitting in is 14" x 16" — just for scale.

    Judy, I take it as such, and consider it complementary. :^)

    Beaver, I never found out why the boulanger closed his shop back in April, but things have been back to normal since our return from North America.

    Hi Evelyn, interesting about "troc" farmer, isn't it?

  18. I think Frisée has become my favorite kind of salad ingredient.

  19. Starman, I hope curly endive (frisée) is something you can easily find in Florida.


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