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This is the salad I made myself for lunch today:

French salad

And I decided that I would use it to finish one of the previously unfinished posts.

Note that there’s no canned corn. No rice. And yes, real potatoes, garlic, and fresh green beans. Except for steaming the green beans, it took me all of about 2 minutes to put together. The potatoes were leftovers and were just as good cold as they were caramelized and freshly-roasted out of the oven the night before. And the cheese is cut from a hunk of cantal that I buy from the heartthrob-worthy cheese guy at my Sunday market. Needless to say, I always make sure I have plenty of cantal on hand.

The tomato was a much-touted Cœur de Bœuf, which turned out to be an expensive flop—le grand déception. (Which is a whole ‘nother rant, but I’ve got some chocolate-dipped cookies to post about next, which I think’ll be more fun than my take on the sad state of tomatoes.)

I don’t know what the big deal is with them around here, but everyone seems to want them. I did too, but now I’m wiser. So I have to agree when Mr. Bush said, “You can fool me once, shame on…shame on you…fool me, you can’t get fooled again.”

Um. Or something like that.

(Actually, that’s probably how my French sounds to the French, so I shouldn’t be so critical.)

But everything else was fresh and tasty and easily thrown together to make a quick and healthy meal. Heck, it took me longer to upload the photo then it did to make the salad. Aside from my asinine purchase of the tomato, there were no fancy ingredients (except for the vinegar and the crummy tomato, all of them were from France), and there wasn’t anything that couldn’t easily be purchased at a market or grocery store.

Instead of the usual pre-made dressing cafés douse over everything, my homemade batch took a whopping nine seconds to make. Except I finally had enough of the crusty mustard clinging to the sides of the mustard jar and took a few moments to grab a spatula and scrape it down.

The total cost of the ingredients?
Maybe 4€, max.

Now that wasn’t really so hard, was it?



    • Manda

    >> No canned corn, no rice

    • Joanna

    David that looks great. And, as you say, quick and easy and inexpensive, so Parisian restaurants have no excuses (but it’s not a new thing, in my experience)

    I’m intrigued by the potatoes … you say they were caramelised and roasted: how do you do them? Sounds like a good change from my usual roasting method …


    • David

    Manda: I think like those omnipresent ‘tomatoes on the vine’, these are raised (and “ripened”) industrially, and will never live up to their expected potential.

    I’ll wait for a week or so, for my care package, after your garden starts erupting! : )

    Joanna: They’re pomme de Ratte, a small, fingerling-style potato. You can use a similar potato; check your local farmer’s market.

    I cut them in half, tossed them in a decent pour of (French!) olive oil with sea salt, pepper, branches of thyme, some garlic cloves and a big pinch of Korean chili powder. (Not French!) Then I roasted them in a pan on the bottom rack of the oven, cut-side down, until browned.

    Depending on how big, or firm your potatoes are, you may want to cover the pan with foil for part of the baking. But use good potatoes for best results. I get mine from my potato guy. (Who is French, btw…)

    • Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy

    If you had thrown your oil/vinegar in the mustard jar directly, capped it and shook it around, you could have saved washing your spatula :)

    Those potatoes do sound good!

    • Gwen K.

    This looks delicious… but what makes it a salad? To me it looks like a wonderful plate of odds and ends, and I’m sure it would not satisfy my craving for a salad, were I to have one (even if I had all these ingredients on hand). What’s the reason for calling it une salade?

    • elra

    David, I will have guests for Sunday dinner tonight, my plan was to serve simple butter lettuce with mango, avocado and papaya salad. After I saw your post, I changed my mind! Now I am thinking to serve your salad instead!

    • sharon

    well, I assume you didn’t grow up speaking French, and I assume that our dear potus grew up speaking nothing BUT English, so shame on him for speaking non-intelligible gibberish to pass as presidential remarks.

    The salad, though, looks very delicious. There’s a salad takeout joint called Chop’t in DC that I’m obsessed with. It’s like a Coldstone creamery for salads–they mix everything up and chop everything into little equal sized pieces, so in every bite you get that perfect combination of lettuce, toppings, and dressing. yuuuum

    • Estelle

    David, I love your salad. I’m going to play copycat tomorrow and have one for lunch. So quick and easy. YUM!

    • Gwen K.

    Well, of course it’s a salade composée! But is it just the vinaigrette that makes us call it a salad in the first place?

    Perhaps I should just admit to being narrow-minded and wanting lettuce. Ah well.

    • Babeth

    Have you tried the real “coeur de boeuf”, one that was picked up at maturity full of sun? I bet not. Be careful a lot of fake coeur de boeuf tomatoes are on display. But when you tried a real one you will know why people are so much talking about it!

    (Here at Antibes Provencal farmers market there’s only one lady who sells the real stuff (the others sell over priced watery tomatoes that only look like coeur de boeuf). Everything is grown within 5 miles without chemicals, all organic. If you ever come to Antibes look for her on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, she’s young with long curly hair.

    • elise

    I visited your site today after reading some news sites and feeling very down about the world, and you made me feel so much better. You have such intelligence and wit, you’re unpretentious yet bursting with useful knowledge. You have such a sensible approach to living well by paying attention, rather than by out-of-control spending and consuming.

    And everything you do seems to be, finally, about treating people well, food- or other-wise. (E.g. your many columns about snottiness — or kindness — in public life.) I really appreciate it. Thanks.

    • krysalia

    rhaaa ♥
    This salad seems just perfect to eat, but for color, maybe i would have add some yellow. Soft yellow peppers ?

    • Angela

    I guess I don’t understand why you can’t get a good salad in the country that produced the Salade Nicoise? Or is that just in Nice?

    I made a lovely version of the above mentioned salad last night – heaven, I tell you, heaven. The Parisians don’t know what they are missing!

    • joolian

    When I’m down to the last smidgen of mustard, I add the oil, vinegar etc to the mustard jar and shake it all up so I get every last scrap of it.

    On your previous rant about Jamie Oliver, I put up with the nausea-inducing camera work bec, as you say, his recipes are so good. Went mushroom foraging yesterday (it’s autumn in Australia) and cooked up his Venison & Wild Mushroom Stroganoff (jamie at home)… really yummy.

    • David

    Babeth: Antibes? How far is that from Nice? Planning a trip down there soon, and not just for the tomatoes…

    Angela: I don’t understand it either. But yes, there are some pretty bizarre versions of it out there.

    (But you do come across a decent version now and then, although the components are always controversial…)

    Krysalia: Am not a big fan of peppers, but yes, they would be pretty on there.

    Sharon: A reader once took me to task for not paying proper respect the Leader of the Free World (and his sidekick), so I took the easy route out.

    Elise: awww, shucks…Do you mind if I reprint that verbatim and put it on the cover of my next book? Glad to make your day, as your message made mine : )

    • Katarina

    Hi David,
    talking about fresh vegetables, have you ever tried the farmers around Paris (I know Ferme de Viltain et Ferme de Gally where I go regularly) where you pick up the vegetables, fruits and flowers directly from the field? You can taste them (this weekend they had a very nice strawberries but without any taste because of lot of rain) and you see how they are grown. I think they use some chemicals, they are not guaranteed organic. The offer varies every week depending on the weather.

    • Jill

    David, your salade composee looks so much healthier than the cholesterol special I had at Le Nemrod on Saturday!

    I took your advice and it was every bit as good as promised. I took a picture so that when my crew members asked just what kind of salad it was, I could show them that the French mean business with their bacon.

    • David

    Katarina: Yes, there’s some great markets outside of Paris. It’s too bad the farmer’s don’t bring their fruits and vegetables in for us. (Although they probably don’t have enough.)

    There’s a few organizations that are now delivering produce to Paris; one that I’m interested in is En Direct du Potager, and there’s some organic ones out there, too. But I do like to pick out my own fruits and vegetables, which is so much more fun.

    Jill: Yes, that salad is a doozy. But it’s done just right, isn’t it!

    • Angie

    Not only must your salad have been good to eat but it is visually pleasing! After having my own vegetable garden in Tuscany even the vegetables at the markets here are sad and expensive!

    That Coeur de Boeuf tomato looked like a roasted red pepper at first. The Coeur de Boeuf tomato is one of the easiest to grow and the flavor is unforgettable when it is authentically sun ripened.

    • Suzen

    Sorry to go off topic on my first post. But can anyone tell me what is the French word for Red Snapper fish? I have been looking for it all poissonnerie but I can’t tell by just looking at the fish or from the French descriptions.

    Many Thanks!

    • Julie

    That’s a nifty salade composée, or composed salad —
    Mine from the other night was made of market goodies: roasted asparagus, little steamed golden potatoes, sucrine lettuces and wild arugula, in a green garlic vinaigrette…

    • David

    Suzen: I think it may be vivaneau, but I may be wrong. If so, someone’s welcome to pipe in…

    • Mariza

    I never could understand why there’s such a lack of dark, leafy greens in Paris (even in grocery stores) but more importantly, what completely baffles me is the French digestive system. How, oh how, do they manage to produce healthy bowel movements on their diet of bread, cheese and meat, where veggies are proportional to garnish? There’s gotta be something I’m missing. Even the Benefibre isn’t as potent as the “domestic” stuff. I did find that Chinatown had the reliable bok choy and gailan, so that was a relief to the tubes but I doubt that most Parisians include that in their daily diet. One of the mysteries of life…

    • jennifer

    that salad looks amazing!!

    • Rosa

    Babeth is right! There is such a thing as “real” coeur de boeuf tomatoes, grown in actual soil. At the market in Nice, only one vendor has them too. But I don’t know if they make it all the way to Paris.

    • Dr. CaSo

    Merci to krysalia for having sent me a link to this blog, I love it :) I have no time to check for the red snapper, but the English-French-English food dictionary found on this website is very useful for expats!

    • Anne

    I, for one, would be very interested in your tomato rant and any advice on where in Paris is the best bet to get the real thing. Is it too early?

    • Jill

    Crusty mustard in the mustard jar? Time to pour in the vinegar and oil and give it a shake. Easiest way to make a vinaigrette that I know.

    • Anna

    i want that salad.

    • Dana Mccauley

    I whole heartedly share your enthusiasm for a leftover based salad with home made vinaigrette. In fact, I often make extra veggies just for this purpose. Since I don’t have a heart throb cheese monger, I often add a dollop of hummus, a hard cooked egg or a bit of tuna salad to my plate.

    • Cheryl

    David, I’d take a salad like that over a steak or a hearty sandwich any day of the week. You’ve hit all the major food groups: the cheese group (which belongs at the bottom of my personal food pyramid); the briny olive group; the green veg group; the leftover potato group; and it even looks like the anchovy group. Bravo!

    Sucks about the tomato, though. There’s nothing worse than a beautiful tomato that turns out to be une grande deception.

    • michelle

    the sunday salad looks great but not the pro-McCain ad to the right of it…

    • beverly reilly

    How did I not discover you before living in Paris a year ago! That’s a rhetorical question, but I’ve discovered you now and will continue reading every word and every recipe. Merci!


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