Salade Alsacienne

Traditionally, a salade alsacienne is an endive salad served with a poached egg and a little smoked bacon on top, and it makes an absolutely delicious starter. This is my version, with a little bread to make it more robust and suitable for a main course (the bread also soaks up the dressing and golden velvety egg yolk) and a soft-boiled instead of a poached egg, which is much less complicated. This is a really quick dish to knock up, but it’s deliciously rich and comforting, making it perfect for dinner after a long day at work.

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1 egg
About 100 grams of bacon lardons
Fresh rocket
1 thick doorstep of white or brown bread
1 clove of garlic
White wine vinegar
Salt & black pepper
Olive oil
Dijon mustard

Serves 1

Start out by peeling and finely dicing the garlic, then get it sizzling in a frying pan with a generous slug of olive oil. Use a pair of scissors to chop the bacon lardons into small pieces, then add to the pan with the garlic.

While the bacon cooks, boil the kettle and pour the water into a small saucepan, so that there’ll be enough to cover the egg. Add a splash of white wine vinegar (this won’t flavour the egg, but simply makes it much easier to peel afterwards) then pop the egg in and set a timer for 6 minutes. Fill a cereal bowl with cold water and put to one side.

Next, make your salad dressing. Pour a generous splash of olive oil into a bowl or jug and add a dash of white wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar, and a spoonful of mustard. Mix vigorously with a fork (although don’t worry too much that it doesn’t combine completely – the oil will refuse to mix properly with the other ingredients).

When the timer for the egg goes, scoop it out and place in the bowl of cold water. Now is probably a good time to put the bread in the toaster. Once the egg is cool enough to handle, gently tap on your work surface to crack the shell, then carefully peel it off – the white wine vinegar should make it come off easily, but make sure you don’t pierce the cooked egg white with any sharp bits. Pop it on the side of a large plate.

Butter the toast, and then assemble your salad – toast first, then a double handful of fresh rocket, and top with the egg. Scatter over the bacon lardons. Finally, pour your salad dressing into the pan you used to cook the bacon and give it a quick stir, to pick up the lovely garlicky juices, then drizzle over the top of the salad.