Category Archives: Salads

Poached egg and bacon salad - Salade Lyonnaise

Poached egg and bacon salad – Salade Lyonnaise

After making the corned beef hash frittata with the poached egg on the top and having the egg come out nicely, I thought it would be good to have a salad with poached eggs. Bacon was an obvious choice to include with the eggs.

As I often do when making a new salad, I then went online for further ideas. Of course my idea was hardly original. In fact, this salad was famous and named for the city of Lyon, France. The recipes called for bacon or pork lardons, poached eggs, frisee, and a vinaigrette made with the warm bacon fat. Some recipes included croutons while others showed slices of toasted bread on the side. I decided to be sinful and grill the bread in butter like a grilled cheese sandwich.

A note on the base for the salad. Frisee seemed to be called for most often. Some mentioned using curly endive because they couldn’t find frisee. And yet other recipes just said to use curly endive. In looking around, I found curly endive. But then I did a little research online to find out what the difference was between frisee and curly endive. The answer: none. Frisee is another name for curly endive. Also, the more yellow leaves at the center are milder and more tender.

This was a fantastic salad, thanks to what I learned doing the research online. I am adding it to my list of the great salads along with Caesar salad and salade Nicoise.

Poached egg and bacon salad – Salade Lyonnaise

3 slices bacon cut into 3/4-inch to 1-inch pieces
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vinegar for poaching eggs
frisee or curly endive
2 slices French bread

1–2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
fresh ground pepper

Tear the frisee or curly endive into bite-sized pieces and have ready on the plate for the final assembly.

Cook the bacon. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Leave the bacon fat in the pan.

For poaching the eggs, heat water about 1–1/2 inches deep in a nonstick pan to a low simmer, about 190 degrees F, adding 1 tablespoon vinegar. Break each egg into a separate custard cup. Place the eggs in the water by tilting the cup, lowering it into the water, and letting the egg slide out. Cook for 4–1/2 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. Place on a towel and trim off any white around the edges with the spoon.

While poaching the eggs, melt butter in a pan and grill the slices of bread until golden, as you would in making a grilled cheese sandwich. Keep warm in the oven.

For the dressing, add olive oil to the pan to total about 3 tablespoons with the bacon fat (judge by eye). Heat and cook the shallots for several minutes. Combine the red wine vinegar, mustard, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly pour the bacon fat, olive oil, and shallots into the bowl, whisking to combine. Spoon as much of the dressing as desired onto the salad and toss to coat all over. Top with the eggs and the bacon, with the toasted bread on the side.

Asian tostada

Asian tostada

After having the idea of using hummus instead of refried beans to make a tostada, producing my Greek tostada, the floodgates opened as I then thought up all sorts of other tostada variants using every type of bean I could think of. This is my next creation, using edamame atop the tortillas. Naturally, this led me to develop an Asian-themed tostada.

When I first had the idea of using edamame, I wasn’t sure in what form I wanted to include it on the tostada. I considered leaving the beans whole or mashing them with a fork or potato masher. As I often do when I am looking for inspiration, I went online and started looking at recipes including edamame. I found a number of recipes for edamame dip. (Interestingly, they all want you to serve it with pita chips.) They all took pretty much the same approach, with variations on quantities and flavoring. But all involved processing the edamame in a food processor with olive oil and some type of citrus juice. So I went from there. Then there’s the questions of how thoroughly you want to process the edamame. I chose to do it enough so that all the beans were chopped up but leaving some texture to the resulting dip/spread. Obviously one can do more or less to taste.

I chose to do a soy-ginger vinaigrette, which I have made for the Asian salad, among others. When I made these and wanted fresh ginger for other recipes, I have used Gourmet Garden ginger paste that comes in a plastic tube, which I have found works well, is very convenient, and can keep in the refrigerator for a significant length of time. Sadly, my market no longer seems to carry the tubes of ginger, though they carry many other types. Then I noticed next to that a small container of lightly dried ginger from the same company. They claimed this would be refreshed in liquid. The ginger flavor it gave to the vinaigrette was fine, but I wasn’t especially impressed with the texture. I think the next time I need fresh ginger, if I can’t find the paste in a tube, I’ll have to get over my laziness, buy a piece of ginger, and grate it.

Asian tostada

1 cup cooked and shelled edamame
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
i small clove garlic, pressed
fresh ground pepper

1 piece of boneless chicken breast in small bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
vegetable oil

2 corn tortillas
vegetable oil

baby spinach, chopped
3–4 scallions, sliced, including lots of the green portions

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed (not all of a large clove)

Earlier in the day combine the edamame, olive oil, garlic, and about 1 tablespoon of the lime juice in a food processor and process until it gets to your desired texture, maybe 30 seconds. or so. Add more lime juice and process a bit more to get desired flavor and consistency. I made mine so it retained some texture and wasn’t completely smooth, but it’s your choice. Refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator a half hour to an hour before making the salad so it is not icy cold and is closer to room temperature.

Heat the oil and cook the chicken until nicely browned and cooked through. Combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, corn starch, ginger, and pepper and add to the chicken. Cook several minutes until the sauce starts to bubble and turns dark and shiny.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, put in a tortilla, cook for about 30 seconds on each side until it starts to crisp up. You want it a little crispy but not as hard as a tortilla chip. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Put the tortillas side-by-side on a plate. Spread on a thin layer of the edamame mixture. Put the spinach, mushrooms, and scallions on the edamame, reserving much of the green parts of the scallions. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad. Put the chicken pieces scattered on the salad and top with the remaining green parts of the scallions.

Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise

I consider the salade Nicoise to be one of the great, classic salads along with the Caesar salad. This is my take on it.

As I said with the balsamic chicken salad, the haricots verts are so much better than ordinary green beans. It’s worth the effort to find them.

With the Greek salad, I encouraged you to try the yellowfin tuna in olive oil. That is a good choice for this salad as well. But you can certainly get fancier. Specialty grocery stores (and Amazon) sell tuna filets in jars. Much more expensive than even the premium canned tuna, but awfully good. Or go all the way and sear a piece of Ahi tuna, nicely rare, for a special salad. This makes a salad that you can definitely serve to company.

Some other ideas for making the salad special for guests. Get several different kinds of small potatoes. When I did this for company, I combined small red potatoes with tiny fingerling potatoes. And include a mix of various types of olives–easy to do if you have a market with an olive bar. The variety just makes the salad even a little more special.

You will notice that I am making a little more of the vinaigrette than I usually make for a salad. This is because I like to toss the potatoes, haricots verts, and tomatoes in the vinaigrette before putting them on the salad. I want to be sure I have enough to do this after having put dressing on the salad itself.

Salade Nicoise

3 to 4 small potatoes
1 helping fresh haricots verts
1–2 hard-cooked eggs

butter lettuce
Nicoise or Kalamata olives
cherry or other small tomatoes, cut in half
tuna (see discussion above)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
fresh ground pepper

Put potatoes in a pan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook until just tender, so a fork can be inserted easily. This will take something around 15 minutes, but use the fork test and start checking earlier. Drain the potatoes. Before finishing the salad, cut them in half or whatever seems appropriate for eating, given their size.

For the haricots verts, bring a pot with plenty of water to the boil. Add the beans and cook until they are just starting to get tender, 2 to 3 minutes, 2 for very crisp to 3 for tender crisp. You can take one out and check, but they will become a little more tender after you strain and rinse them, so stop on the crisp side. When cooked, strain and run cold water over them. This not only cools them down and helps to stop the cooking but also helps keep the nice green color.

Start the egg cooking in cold water. This heats the egg gradually, allowing air to escape from the shell slowly, without cracking it. Bring the water to the simmer, turn down the heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain and cool the egg. Peel and cut the egg into quarters lengthwise for the salad.

Whisk together or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, and the other ingredients for the vinaigrette. Place lettuce on the plate. Spoon some of the vinaigrette over the lettuce. Toss the potatoes, haricots verts, and tomatoes with the remaining vinaigrette. Arrange the ingredients on the lettuce, with tuna in the center.

Pasta Caesar salad

Pasta Caesar salad

The idea for this salad comes from a horse show. When my daughter was growing up, she competed at horse shows (hunter/jumper/equitation). Horse shows are all-day affairs (and multiple days for the larger shows). So obviously people need something to eat during the day. While the very largest shows attracted multiple outside food vendors, most of the shows had a small snack shop with very limited (and very often uninspired) offerings.

One of the shows we went to, in Tennessee, had some of the better food, much of which was homemade. And one item on the menu was pasta Caesar salad. It consisted of pasta and romaine lettuce mixed with standard bottled Caesar dressing, topped with a few croutons. This became an instant favorite for us. It was such a nice change from the normal horse-show fare–good to have something fresh.

For this pasta Caesar salad, I add chicken to the pasta (farfalla) and romaine to make a main-course salad. It has Parmesan cheese freshly grated over the top. The croutons have to be freshly made, with garlic-infused olive oil, the same as the croutons for my salmon Caesar salad. For the dressing, I make a lemon vinaigrette with olive oil, including Worcestershire sauce, exactly the same ingredients used in the classic Ceasar salad described by Julia Child (except, of course, the egg is not included).

Pasta Caesar salad

1 cup small cubes of Fremch bread (or other similar, firm bread)
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
1–2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

4–6 ounces cooked chicken breast, in bite-sized pieces
1 cup or a little less cooked farfalla (about 2/3 cup or so uncooked)
2 cups romaine lettuce, cut into fairly small pieces
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4–5 drops Worcestershire sauce
fresh ground pepper

Cook the farfalla in advance so it can cool. This would also be a good time to make the croutons.

I have two different approaches for incorporating the garlic with the olive oil for making the croutons. The quick way is to mince the garlic and put it in the pan with the olive oil as you start heating the pan. This works, but leaves small dark bits of garlic at the end. The more time-consuming approach is to put the garlic, minced or pressed, into a small bowl with the olive oil. Mash the garlic in the olive oil with the back of a spoon for at least a minute or so to infuse the olive oil with the garlic. Then strain the olive oil into the pan, leaving the garlic in the bowl.

Heat the olive oil and garlic (however included) in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and start turning them over with a spatula and wooden spoon to get the bread coated with the garlic-infused olive oil. It may seem like the bread is getting a little soggy with the oil, but don’t worry, this is part of getting them set up to brown and turn into the tasty croutons. Keep turning the croutons over frequently. You don’t have to do this continuously, but you need to turn them over a lot because you want the bread to brown on all sides, and this isn’t like when you’re cooking a few flat things and can just turn them over once to cook the other side. After a few minutes, the croutons will start to brown. I’ll be turning them more frequently at this point to be sure the croutons brown on all sides. Stay with them because it now goes very quickly. When they are lightly browned and toasty—a couple of the croutons may even start to look a little darker—remove the pan from the stove and put the croutons into a dish. (They’ll cook more if left in the pan.)

Mix the farfalla, romaine, and chicken in a bowl. Whisk or shake in a jar the oil, lemon juice, Worcester sauce, and fresh ground pepper. Pour over the salad and toss so everything is coated with the vinaigrette. Put the salad on the serving plate. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top and add the croutons.

Greek chicken tostada

Greek chicken tostada

The idea for this salad came from a (very Mexican) tostada I had for lunch recently at the Huntington Library and Gardens near Pasadena. Most tostadas top the tortillas with the standard refried beans made with pinto beans. This tostada used black beans instead, making it distinctive and very good.

This got me thinking about whether some other types of beans might also be used to make a tostada. How about garbonzo beans/chickpeas? And you can buy this with the beans already mashed up and seasoned, ready to use: hummus.

Once I decided to make a tostada with hummus, an Eastern Mediterranean theme was obvious. I chose Greek, with feta cheese and Kalamata olives, but I wanted something else. Since I was already using one dip from that part of the world, I thought about tzatziki, the Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce/dip, which I really like. But it didn’t seem to be quite right putting dollops of tzatziki on the tostada. Instead, I put cucumber pieces on the salad and made a dressing based on the ingredients in tzatziki.

I started the dressing with my standard vinaigrette ingredients of 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, to which I added 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt. This produces a slightly thickened dressing that you might call a tzatziki vinaigrette and would be one option. I decided I wanted a thicker, creamier dressing more like tzatziki and added a third tablespoon of yogurt and then a fourth. My suggestion is to proceed in this way, stopping when you get a consistency that you like.

I think the key to this salad is moderation and balance. You don’t want too much of any one ingredient such that it dominates.

Greek chicken tostada

4- or 5-ounce piece of chicken breast
2 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
spinach, chopped
1 cup (or so) cucumber, in small pieces
Kalamata olives, cut in half
feta cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 to 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill

Bake the chicken breast in advance. When cool, pull it apart to make shredded chicken.

So the dressing can be well chilled, an hour or so before serving, mix the olive oil, lemon juice garlic, dill, and the yogurt. Start with 2 tablespoons yogurt and whisk everthing together to see the consistency. If desired, add more yogurt to get your preferred consistency. Refrigerate the dressing, as it should be well-chilled before serving.

Going in the other direction on temperature, I think the hummus and chicken, which will top the cooked tortillas, should be closer to room temperature, so take them out of the refrigerator an hour or so before making the salad.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, put in a tortilla, cook for about 30 seconds on each side until it starts to crisp up. You want it a little crispy but not as hard as a tortilla chip. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Put the tortillas side-by-side on a plate. Spread on a thin layer of hummus. Add the shredded chicken, then the chopped spinach, and on top of that the cucumber pieces.

Whisk the previously made dressing and spoon on top the salad. Top with a sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese and the Kalamata olives.

Spinach, artichoke, and shrimp salad

Spinach, artichoke, and shrimp salad

This salad was directly adapted from a great side salad that came from one of the Le Cordon Bleu cookbooks. My daughter has made it multiple times with meals, and so have I. It occurred to me that this would also work great as a main course salad with something added. Shrimp seemed to be just the thing to go with this salad.

I’ve used the frozen artichoke hearts when making this salad. I’m usually happy with the canned, but the frozen just seem to work better here.

Spinach, artichoke, and shrimp salad

1 cup shrimp, cooked
1 cup frozen quartered artichoke hearts, cooked

baby spinach
8-10 black olives, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons roasted pine nuts
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Cook the shrimp and artichokes earlier in the day so they can cool. Cooking 2 minutes once they come to the boil is sufficient for both.

Assemble the salad with the spinach, artichokes, olives, shrimp, and pine nuts. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil and lemon juice. Spoon the dressing over the salad. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top.

Crab Caprese salad

Crab Caprese salad

Tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil are a classic Italian combination, as in Margherita pizza (and my Margherita frittata) and in Caprese salad. This is my take on that salad.

I wanted to add some meat or seafood and went with crab. My market sells, in the seafood case, cooked crab leg clusters that have crab legs about 8 to 10 inches long. I decided to go with those rather than getting fresh or canned crab meat in order to get actual pieces of crab leg to put on the salad. I only added about 2 ounces of crab (maybe even a little less) as the mozzarella provided plenty of additional substance for the salad. You could use crab meat instead.

For tomatoes, Trader Joe’s has those nice mini heirloom tomatoes which I used here, cut in half. Larger tomatoes, sliced, as typically used for Caprese salad would be an equally good option.

The standard Caprese salad does not include lettuce. I like lettuce. Also, larger tomatoe slices can be nicely arranged on the plate, while putting the small tomatoes down on the plain plate would look a little bare.

Then came the question of how to dress the salad. When I first had the idea of doing this salad with crab, I immediately thought about a lemon vinaigrette, as lemon juice always complements seafood nicely. But in looking at recipes online for Caprese salad, a common instruction was to only use olive oil, as vinegar would not go with the mozzarella (though there were several Caprese salad recipes featuring a balsamic reduction). I came up with a two-step compromise. I composed the salad with everything but the mozzarella. I made a vinaigrette using half the lemon juice I would normally use (1 teaspoon of lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of oil rather than 2 teaspoons, the standard 3-to–1 ratio). I put this on the salad and it gave a very subtle lemon flavor without being acidic. I then added the mozzarella and some whole basil leaves and spooned a little more olive oil over those. I think this worked well and accomplished what I had set out to do.

Crab Caprese salad

baby lettuce
mozzarella cheese
basil, torn into pieces with some whole leaves for the top

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Arrange lettuce, tomatoes, crab, and the torn basil pieces on the plate. Whisk or shake in a small jar 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Pour over the salad. Put the mozzarella and whole basil leaves on the salad. Spoon the remaining olive oil on the mozzarella and the basil leaves.