Salade Composé

Friday 14 April 2017

Sixty years ago, the English writer GK Chesterton wrote, `If an Englishman has understood a Frenchman, he has understood the most foreign of foreigners. The nation that is nearest is now the furthest away.'   We even choose to measure the distance between differently . . . for us it's miles . . . for them kilometers. We tend to think of them as arrogant individuals wearing berets, with ropes of garlic hanging around their necks . . . and they think of us as being rather "toffee-nosed" and "tasteless" . . . capable only of cooking a good roast beef!!

Our relationship has always been tenuous at best . . . its really a bit of a love/hate kind of thing!  We noticed, on those few holidays we have spent in France, that you can get delicious cheeses from all over the world, but there are no British Cheeses. At least we have never been able to find them.  The Toddster finds that very hard to take . . . a world without a good cheddar is a world that is missing something very vital!

Anyhoooo . . . I do love most French food, and I think most Brit's do.  A lot of the higher class restaurants here in the UK carry French dishes on the menu . . . seriously.  Love . . . hate . . .

This is a delicious salad, which one might easily find in any French Bistro . . . but, when you  really look at it . . . we are not talking gourmet here. Simple ingredients, well prepared and put together with care.

For years the English did not do salad very well . . . and indeed, it can still be very difficult to find a decent salad when out and about here in the UK.  I am always so disappointed when the menu in a restaurant says salad is included, and it comes and  . . . .  salad is a few limp lettuce leaves with a slice of tomato and a slice of cucumber on top . . . .  and NO dressing.  If you ask for dressing, you are given a squeeze packet of salad cream.  (Salad cream has its place, but when I pay for a salad in a restaurant, I want a decent dressing.) Is it so hard to get it right???

Salads can be as diverse as the people who enjoy eating them.  To some . . . that aforementioned combination might well be the salad of some people's dreams!  To others . . . well . . .  it's sadly lacking.  Early on in our marriage when I told Todd I was making us a salad for lunch, he turned up his nose and said . . . "I don't really like salad.  Salad is boring."  Well . . . he had never had one of mine and now he quite likes it, I am very happy to say!

I can say with all impunity . . . I have never served him a boring salad!!  good  A salad is only as tasty and exciting as the ingredients used, and . . . of course . . . the dressing you choose to drizzle over it.  Fresh ingredients, with a delicious combination of colours, textures and tastes . . . with an incredibly scrummy dressing . . . perhaps some crisp croutons . . .  homemade please!!  (Isn't that what stale bread is for?)  That's what makes a good salad GREAT! Nom! Nom!

 *Salade Composé*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

This literally means "Composed Salad."  The ingredients are layered on top of each other rather than being tossed together.  I love the tangy vinaigrette.

For the salad:
1 small French Baguette
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
60ml of extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup)
6 rashers of streaky bacon, rind removed
150g of salad leaves (about 4 cups)
6 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced thinly
4 hard boiled eggs, halved lengthwise

For the Dressing:
60ml of sherry vinegar (1/4 cup)
80ml of extra virgin olive oil (1/3 cup)
3 tsp of good quality Dijon mustard
1 tsp runny honey
fine seasalt and cracked black pepper to taste

Put all of the dressing ingredients into a jar with a screw top lid.  Give it a good shake.  Set aside.

Preheat the grill to high.  Cut the bread into 1/2 inch slices.  Combine the garlic and oil for the salad.  Brush this mixture onto both sides of the bread slices.  Toast under the grill until golden brown.  Set aside and keep warm.  (Don't let them burn!)

Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet until crisp.  Place onto paper kitchen toweling to drain.  Set aside.

Layer the salad leaves in top of each of 4 chilled places.  Top with the bread slices, and bacon broken into chunky bits.  Top with the egg and tomatoes.  Give the vinaigrette another shake and drizzle some over each salad.  Pass the remainder at the table.


  1. I can't hate salad..there are too many..infinity,surely one salad will sit well on your palate.
    They are beauty foods to can make them look like a million bucks,like you do:)

    1. Like you Monique, I really do love salads! I cannot imagine anyone not liking them, but there is no accounting for taste! xo

  2. Marie,

    I love your candidness when it comes to countries, their foods, and not mincing words. I've heard much the same although I've visited neither France or the U.K. And you did this with a nice amount of humor. Love it! :)

    Your salad looks lovely! Sometimes I'll get a very plain salad at a restaurant but the dressing will be perfect, and that's all you need. I've been coming upon so many different salads with a myriad of yummy ingredients, the dressings sometimes don't matter. I've been putting these recipes on a Pinterest board if you are interested in having a peek. There is a link on my blog sidebar.

    Jane x

    1. Thanks Jane. My candidness is not always appreciated. But I am who I am! I think the dressing makes the salad. Even plain lettuce comes alive with a fabulous dressing! I will have a look at your Pinterest! xo

  3. I love the looks (and sounds) of this salad. Were our French Canadian ancestors developing their own luscious French cuisine while our French counterparts were doing so? Given the climate (my ancestors came from St-Michel, Yamaska, Quebec) I doubt they often had salads like we find today. This is a great salad for this weekend when we have a plethora of hard cooked eggs. And I've got cooked bacon in my freezer. When I bring bacon home, I bake it all up in the oven on parchment (400 degrees F for 15 minutes, no turning), then, store it in parchment and freezer bags. I'm afraid this has meant we eat more bacon, but it certainly jazzes up a salad. Thanks so much. Yum.

    1. I am sure my French Canadian Ancestors were not eating salads like this either! Although I do love the food that they were able to and do create for sure! I tend to fry my bacon all up at once as well. Its just easier that way and who can't use bacon at the ready! You are welcome! I hope you enjoy it! xo

  4. I am surprised that you state that there are no English cheeses. Have you not heard of Cheddar cheese? This was originally made in Cheddar, Somerset and aged in the coolness of the Cheddar cave system. Sadly it is now made world wide but the best still comes from Cheddar. Then there is the lovely double and single Gloucester cheeses, source of the Easter Rolling cheeses. Yorkshire is a good cheese making area too with their gorgeous plain and flavoured Wensleydale cheeses. Stilton only made in England as it is a protected name. We also have wonderful Cornish cheeses like the nettle cheese, blue brie as well as the gorgeous ordinary Cornish brie. I suspect that all the British cheese makers would be up in arms about your comments! Sue proud to be English and born in the UK.

    1. I think you need to read what I wrote again Sue! I did NOT say there were no English cheeses. I said that when we were in France they had every cheese under the sun, but NO English cheeses available! I was talking about France! I know fully well all of the beautiful cheese we have available here in the U.K. And if you read my blog more frequently you would see that I make full use of them! I think you owe me an apology!

  5. My dad and your Todd would do just fine together if going out to eat somewhere. My dad's very first preference in cheese is cheddar. In fact, it seems the sharper the better. I enjoy a nice cheddar but I want a bit more mild than that. My mom on the other hand heads for a blue cheese first, I can see her a Stilton admirer. However, it's not all that easy to get either here in the states, ESPECIALLY the Stilton. I can also guarantee you my dad would also head right for a British cheddar over ANY French cheese. Of course, in all fairness he'd see if a nice American Longhorn or other American cheese were available but he'd probably still go for the best cheddar around. I would have thought this "rivalry" between the two countries would have finally gone by the wayside for the most part, especially with the tunnel. (although after watching that murder mystery called "The Tunnel" I'm not too sure. Did you watch that? about being on the edge of your seat. Am I right in that a part two is to happen?) Back to cheese....I don't know what its like for you but in the US it seems almost any cheese, good or bad, domestic or import, its all becoming so expensive, but then what isn't anymore. I'm the all around gal...I just love cheese. I've often told people, you melt cheese on my old sneakers (trainers) and I'd probably eat them. Cheese must makes ANYTHING taste better.

    Here in the states the wedge salad, a cut wedge of iceberg lettuce of all things, with a dressing and just a few items sprinkled over it is making a very big comeback the last couple of years. Of course back in the 70s to get anything but iceberg in a salad was impossible. But this wedge salad, when paired with the right meal, can be a very nice side. It's often paired with a good steak and some sort of potato.

    1. I love a great Wedge Salad Pam! I think I have a recip on here with a cheddar dressing! xo


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