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Saturday
Jun072014

« Two Classic French Salads: Lyonnaise Salad and Leeks Vinaigrette »

It is definitely the time of year when food and wine is simply gorgeous. This of course makes walking through the green market an exercise in restraint. I want to buy one of everything. But inevitably, my choices come down to a combination of weekly staples (bacon ends, eggs, cheese, a loaf of chiabata, herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, garlic, scallions) and whatever fruits and vegetables that catch my eye. This combination in turn becomes the foundation of many equally gorgeous meals. 

My mother often laughs that my affinity for bacon comes from my Eastern European roots -- which is probably true given the (copious) amount of pork/pork fat that the Poles have consumed over the centuries. But using animal protein/fat for flavoring (and preservation) is the hallmark of many cuisine throughout the whole of Europe. 

With that said, there are many ways to flavor a vegetable dish besides using animal protein or fat.

I was reminded of this recently, as I was thumbing through David Lebovitz's new cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, from which both of the recipes in this blog post are adapted. 

Vegetable oils, vinegars, dijon mustard, sea salt, pepper, anchovies and herbs factor heavily in Lebovitz's recipes. He also incorporates eggs into many of his dishes, which makes total sense. After all, doesn't everything taste better with a runny poached egg on top of it?

Case in point: Salade Lyonnaise. This salad is a very provincial dish, which is traditionally served in small cafes (bouchons) in Lyon, France. 

The salad consists of frisee lettuce, lardons, new potatoes and croutons, and is dressed with a mustard-based vinaigrette.  It is topped with a poached egg, which adds depth and luciousness to the dish as the yoke oozes onto and throughout the salad.

Poireaux Vinaigrette, or leeks vinaigrette, is another French classic dish, which celebrates the marriage of summer vegetables, a mustard vinaigrette and fresh eggs. Lebovitz adds some bacon for good measure, but it is not a traditional ingredient.

Unlike scallions and onions, leeks require considerable effort to clean and prep -- owing to their propensity to harbor sand/dirt in every imaginable nook and cranny. But once they are cleaned and cooked, this salad comes together very quickly

I poured the vinaigrette over the leeks when they were still slightly warm and let then let them marinate for a few hours before dinner. Oh my. What a treat.

The French would serve both of these dishes as a first course. But both of these gorgeous salads can also be served as a light main course, with a crusty piece of bread and a glass of chilled rose for good measure.

The printable recipes are here:

Lyonnaise Salad

Leeks Vinaigrette

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