For the inexperienced chef, salad might seem like a bland and limiting dish with not much potential. Those just concerned with the health benefits might dislike the idea of eating a bowl of lettuce and not much else. Luckily for you (no matter which camp you fall into), there are a ton of really interesting and healthy French salads you can make easily, and even on a budget. You’ll find the recipes and some basic instructions in this guide!
To learn more about healthy eating, check out this guide on healthy cooking fundamentals and this guide on maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle, diet-free.
This is the plainest and the greenest of all French salad recipes, but just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it has to be bland! This salad is extremely flexible, with just a lettuce and dressing of your choice. Here’s a good place to start:
- mixed salad greens (washed)
- 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
Whisk the vinegar, mustard (optional), vinegar, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl, adding splashes of olive oil every now and then until everything is completely mixed. Pour over the greens, or toss together. This is an extremely basic salad that you can add any kind of fresh vegetable to, and adjust to your liking.
French Niçoise salad is a versatile salad made with tuna, anchovies, potatoes, eggs, green beans, and more. Lettuce is optional, and portions can be adjusted so that the dish can be served as a main course or an hors d’oeuvre. The salad can also be prepared without the tuna and anchovies for vegan and vegetarian diners. Check out this guide for ideas on how to do vegetarian and vegan diets right.
- 1 head of Boston lettuce, washed
- 1-3 hard-boiled eggs, cold
- 2-3 cups cold green beans
- 3-4 tomatoes, quartered
- 3 cups cold potato salad
- 1 cup canned tuna, drained
- 6 anchovy filets
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives
Put the tomatoes and the beans in a bowl and toss with vinaigrette. Set aside, and toss the lettuce leaves, separated, in the vinaigrette. Line the bowl with the potato salad, create a bed of lettuce, and arrange the green beans, tomatoes, boiled eggs (halved or quartered), tuna, and anchovies (both optional) around the dish, and serve!
Salade à la d’Argenson
A potato and beet salad popularized by chef Julia Child, salade à la d’Argenson can look a bit unappealing for people who don’t know what it’s made of… seriously, it can look like a jello mold made out of ground beef. In reality, it’s a great way to use up leftover rice or potatoes, plus it’s super filling and easy to make.
- 2-3 cups of boiled rice or diced boiled potatoes
- 2 cups cooked beets, diced (can also use canned)
- 4 tablespoons minced green onions
- 3/4 cup French vinaigrette
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- any assortment of cooked cauliflower, peas, turnips, carrots, green beans, olives, hard-boiled eggs, water cress, parsley sprigs, meat of choice, diced apples, broccoli, and more – all optional
Marinate the cooked rice, boiled potatoes, minced green onions, and beets in a vinaigrette, seasoned and refrigerated for 12 to 24 hours. Mix in the mayonnaise, fit into a mold or arrange on a plate with your choice of vegetables and meats. This particular recipe is inspired by Julia Child’s recipe, but salade à la d’Argenson can be made a variety of ways with a variety of ingredients. For more ideas, check out this guide on making healthy good taste great.
Salade de bœuf à la Parisienne
This is an interesting, non-vegetarian salad made with potato salad and cold beef. It’s a great way to use up leftovers while still making something relatively healthy.
- 1-2 cups French potato salad
- Cold boiled beef, adjust ingredients to proportions
- 3-5 quartered tomatoes
- 2 medium onions, sweet and/or green
- 1 handful of water cress
- 1 handful of parsley
- 1 cup French vinaigrette
- boiled eggs, quartered
- cooked beets, green beans, cauliflower, or more, served cold
Cut the beef into thin, even slices. If using sweet onions, slice them into rings. Marinate the onions with the beef in a bowl of the French vinaigrette for 1/2 to 1 hour, keeping it cold. Arrange the marinated beef on a long platter, surround with tomatoes, lie the onion rings over the beef, and arrange your chosen assortment of vegetables around the plate. Top with minced green onions (optional), add the rest of the vinaigrette, and season with salt and pepper to taste.