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Frisee Salad with Bacon, Egg and Garlic Toasts

Serves: Makes 4 to 6 servings


  • Garlic Croutons:
  • 2½ tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
  • 1½ cups (65g) cubes or torn pieces of bread, about ¾ inch (2cm) in size
  • Sea salt or kosher salt

  • Salad:
  • 8 to 12 new potatoes (12 ounces/ 360g)
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 cups (300g) diced, thick-cut bacon, smoked or un-smoked
  • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil or neutral-tasting vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and minced garlic
  • 8 cups (150g) loosely packed frisée or escarole leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or fresh chives
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 poached eggs (page 329) or 4 hard-cooked eggs (page 328), peeled and quartered


"Salade lyonnaise was the first dish that made me fall in love with French cuisine. Even though the French can be rather territorial about their food ("You want bouillabaisse? Go to Marseille!" "Aïoli? Too much garlic. That’s for les Provençaux . . . "), salade lyonnaise is universally beloved across France, and beyond. But I have to say, if you want the best version, you should go to Lyon.

As much as people love to travel to Paris, few make the trip to Lyon, which can be reached in two hours on the high-speed TGV train. Dotted around the city are gut-busting restaurants called bouchons, where the food is brought to the table in big earthenware bowls and rustic terrines, and diners are encouraged to help themselves—repeatedly, if you wish. (Which is the first reminder that you’re not in Paris anymore.) At the end of a meal, most places will not let you leave unless you have at least one glass of eau-de-vie, a spirited shot of high-test distilled brandy that will help you digest whatever came before. (And can make you forget it, the day after.)

If that isn’t enough to put you on a train, Lyon is also home to Bernachon. This is the only location of the world-famous chocolate shop that imports its own cocoa beans, which they blend, grind, and melt to make their chocolates and confections. But what makes me crazy are their Kalouga bars, which are the gold standard of salted caramel–filled chocolate bars, and I’ve been known to buy out their entire inventory, and stockpile them in my apartment back in Paris.

Like good chocolates, salade lyonnaise is a confluence of good, yet humble, ingredients coming together to become something more important than each one could be on its own. The frisée should be crisp and fresh, to stand up to the warm ingredients that would turn other salad greens into a mushy pile. The pieces of bacon should be lightly browned, not too crunchy, so they have a bit of juicy chewiness still left in them. And the fingerling potatoes should be warm when the salad is tossed, which helps them soak up the mustardy flavor of the dressing. Poached eggs are added, and the runny yolks get stirred into the salad to enrich the vinaigrette. There are other versions that use hard-cooked eggs, if you’d rather keep things simple.

Although this salad is hearty enough to feed a normal person as a meal, it’s considered a first course where it originated. Drink this with a fruity red wine, such as a Brouilly or Beaujolais, slightly chilled, as they do in Lyon. And if you ever have this salad in the city where it originated, get yourself to Bernachon for a salted butter caramel-filled chocolate bar afterwards. You can thank me later, preferably with a chocolate bar filled with salted butter caramel." –Reprinted with permission from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

To make the croutons: heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it’s deeply golden brown; be careful not to burn it. Remove and reserve the garlic, then add the bread, stirring the cubes in the oil, turning them frequently. Add a sprinkle of salt and a dribble more oil if necessary, until the bread is brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.

To make the salad: put the potatoes in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Add some salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to a low boil and cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. (If done in advance, cook them slightly less, and let them rest in the warm water for up to 45 minutes.)

While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until just starting to crisp. Drain the pieces on a plate lined with paper towels.

In a large salad bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, ¼ teaspoon of salt, the oil, water, and garlic. (If you like garlic a lot, you can chop up the fried garlic clove from making the croutons and add that as well.)

To assemble the salad: slice the potatoes and add them to the bowl along with the bacon and toss gently. Add the frisée, parsley, and some black pepper. Add the croutons and hard-cooked eggs (if using) and toss very well. Divide among four salad bowls. If using poached eggs, slide one on top of each salad and serve.

Variation: Although it’s not traditional, I sometimes add 2 cups (260g) of crumbled blue cheese to the salad at the last minute, omitting the eggs.

by David Lebovitz

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