What to CookFrench CookingSaladsNot Recipes

Follow This Formula, Make Meal-Worthy Salads with Just This & That

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It's France Week! We partnered with La Baleine to share a formula for three composed salads—ahem, salades composées—that take cues from the classics and gussies them up a bit!

Niçoise. Cobb. Those are the only composed salads I can think of, but take a look at the bones of these (very good) classics and you’ll see a structure that guides us to big, fun salads made of whatever our whim inspires. Certainly the word “composed” doesn’t illicit a rollicking good time. Or room for personal expression—much beyond crossed legs, really—but when it comes to “salade composée,” let’s get past the stuffy name for just a second.

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Composed salad, all shook up (but not literally!)
Composed salad, all shook up (but not literally!) Photo by James Ransom

By definition, composed salads have lots of ingredients, in neat or meandering rows—the kind of rainbow of textures and flavors that’s timeless (ahem). They splay on platters (you don’t even have to toss!) to bring to your table of impressed guests, or for yourself so you can poke around with your fingers for your favorite bites.

To make a composed salad a chorus instead of chaos, you’ll need to follow this (loose! imperfect!) formula. Nose-dive into your fridge to find an ingredient that fits each of these categories—there might an ingredient that fits two categories, and that's okay. Then, think about whether you’d like to eat the ingredients together. If the answer is yes—some people might be okay with cheese and bananas together?—line 'em up, add your favorite dressing, and go for it.

the golden formula

ideas to get you started

Photo by James Ransom

Niçoise-Adjacent

  • Leaves: Frisée
  • Fatty richness: Hard-boiled eggs
  • Vegetables: Salt-crusted purple potatoes (here's how to make those)
  • Protein: You already have eggs, but smoked salmon, too
  • Punch: Fried capers
  • Crunch: Blanched asparagus
Photo by James Ransom

Farmers Market Overflow

  • Leaves: Arugula seasoned with grey salt and pepper (you always season your greens, right? You wouldn't eat any other vegetable without doing so)
  • Fatty richness: Burrata
  • Vegetables: Shaved fennel
  • Protein: Prosciutto
  • Punch: Pickled raisins
  • Crunch: Peaches
Photo by James Ransom

Fattoush-Like

  • Leaves: Mint, parsley, and cilantro leaves
  • Fatty richness: Yogurt-chive dressing
  • Vegetables: Cucumbers and radishes
  • Protein: Spiced-roasted chickpeas (you can use this as a guide, changing spices as you wish)
  • Punch: Castelvetrano olives
  • Crunch: Pita toasted with sea salt (here's a recipe)

La Baleine sea salt certainly has a history—it’s been around since 1856—and we’ve been stocking it in our own kitchens for years, too. It's a pure sea salt originating from the French Mediterranean and Brittany, and comes in several styles, from coarse to sel gris. See them all here.

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For more on French food (sans white tablecloth), head here.

Tags: la baleine, composed salads