Learn what goes into French salads including greens, vegetables, toppings and other ingredients. Salades composées are truly varied in their possibilities: some warm, some cold, some sweet, some savory. Sometimes served as a substantial starting course and sometimes served as a lighter course toward the end of your meal, you can
always find a way to work a French salad into your menu.
For specific recipes, see these French Salad Recipes.
French Salad Greens
In French the word salade refers to the greens that go into making a salad. These greens might be
Mache - Lamb's lettuce.
Pissenlit - Dandelion greens.
Roquette - Arugula.
Fenouil - The unusual light licorice crunch of fennel goes well with many flavors.
Endive - Belgian Endive
Escarole - Scarole
Romain - Romaine lettuce.
Meslcun - A delightfully tender and flavorful combination of baby greens.
Chou - Cabbage.
And sometimes you'll even find iceberg lettuce in a French salad (although this is pretty rare).
Les Salades Composées
When these greens are served with other ingredients they become a salade composée, or mixed salad. Some typical French salad recipes are:
Salade niçoise - Perhaps the most famous of salads in France, salade niçoise is also probably the most controversial as far as the ingredient list goes. What's in it? Dare I say green beans, cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes, onions, hard boiled eggs, anchovies and black olives?
Salade landaise - Landes is a department, a forest, and a region in the south west of France. This salad features foods that are typical of this region: cep mushrooms and duck confit.
Salade alsacien - A typical salad from Alsace known for its hearty foods, might include steamed potatoes, sausage, ham and cheese.
Salade de la mer - A seafood salad in France could include shrimp, scallops, tuna or smoked salmon. Often served with avocados and cherry tomatoes.
Salade de riz - Rice often finds its way into salads in France. Mix it with drained canned corn, chopped tomatoes and flaked tuna for a typical combination.
Salades chaudes - Many French salads are served warm. For a typical first course featuring lentilles de Puy and goat cheese, try this
lentil salad recipe.
Meat salads - Salads in France quite often contain meat. You might find grilled chicken liver or gizzards, smoked duck breast, sliced ham, and even beef.
The most important aspect of creating a salad (and an entire meal for that matter) is to consider balance. If you have a soft, smooth avocado, marry it with the crunch of toasted almonds. If you like a tangy balsamic vinaigrette, toss a few sweet raisins on top for a delicious contrast.
In France, you will mostly find salads dressed with simple vinaigrettes that allow the flavor of the other ingredients to shine through. To get you started creating your own, have a look at these
The End of the Meal Salad
For a Sunday afternoon feast, or any longer meal, you may be served a simple salad after your main course. Most times this will just be one sort of lettuce tossed with a vinaigrette and perhaps one other ingredient such as grilled walnuts.
This salad course gives you a little low calorie breathing space before you are expected to attack a cheese course and quite likely dessert, followed by coffee.