ExperiencePlus! Blog

Simple “salade Lyonnaise”: gateway to poached egg perfection

When I want to make a refreshing summer salad that features protein, lots of color, and a vinaigrette-forward flavor, I think of salad “Niçoise,” but I rarely have all the ingredients I need on hand, especially ahi tuna. While many a Niçoise recipe calls for canned tuna, I prefer slices of perfectly seared ahi tuna filet over the typically prescribed can of tuna. Thankfully, “salade Lyonnaise” shares the vinaigrette-forward flavor of its Niçoise cousin, but requires a fraction of the ingredients, and therefore, prep time required to enjoy.

But, don’t be daunted by the poached egg. The recipe cited below makes super easy work of what often feels like a scary endeavor. I’ve poached eggs for years and tried all the things – swirling the water into a vortex that you drop the eggs into (one at a time); adding just the right amount of vinegar, or dropping the egg into a special poaching vessel. But the simplicity of this recipe’s instructions emboldened me to try yet another technique.

Author Mark Bittman instructs one to ‘bring about an inch of salted water to a boil in a small, deep skillet, then lower heat to barely bubbling‘ (emphasis mine). I used a small Le Creuset sauce pan instead of skillet to poach two eggs. I brought the salted water to boil on my induction cooktop using power mode and then titrated the heat down to level 5 at which point I barely had bubbles breaking the surface of the water.

When I slid the eggs into the pan one at at time, they splayed a bit at the bottom but then the whites circled back around the egg. I set the timer to four minutes and walked away (they likely cooked 4.5 minutes in total). Once the eggs were finished, I extracted each with a slotted spoon and placed them onto a paper towel to drain and cool. The shape of each egg was pleasantly intact, well-formed, and not jiggly.

Then I prepared the warm dressing. I didn’t have any bacon at home to pan fry, so I resorted to substituting olive oil for bacon grease and added a mixture of basmati rice and tri-color quinoa to a bed of a arugula to add some dimension. When I placed the egg on top and sliced into it, the yolk was perfectly coagulated to my standard of doneness: a hint of ooze kept in check by a soft medium-boiled yolk casing. My results are the photo at the top of this page.

Next time I make this, I’ll be sure to have bacon in the house. And if I ever get to Lyon, I’ll order this salad straightaway.

Source: Mark Bittman’s Salade Lyonnaise, which appeared in the digital edition of the October 17, 2023, New York Times

Makes 4 servings


  • 4 cups torn frisée or other strong-tasting greens, washed and dried – arugula worked great
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • About ½ pound good slab bacon or pancetta, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 shallot, chopped, or 1 tablespoon chopped red onion
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons top-quality sherry vinegar – I substituted white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • 4 eggs
  • Black pepper


  1. Put frisée or other greens in large salad bowl. Put olive oil in skillet over medium heat. When hot, add bacon and cook slowly until crisp all over, about 10 minutes. Add shallot or onion and cook until softened, a minute or two. Add vinegar and mustard to the skillet and bring just to a boil, stirring, then turn off heat.
  2. Meanwhile, bring about an inch of salted water to a boil in a small, deep skillet, then lower heat to barely bubbling. One at a time, break eggs into a shallow bowl and slip them into the bubbling water. Cook eggs for 3 to 5 minutes, just until the white is set and the yolk has filmed over. Remove each egg with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on paper towel.
  3. If necessary, gently reheat dressing, then pour over greens (they should wilt just a bit), toss and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top each portion with an egg and serve immediately. (Each person gets to break the egg.)