Classic Mixed salad as served at Parisian Restaurants. Why Parisian? Because this French dish is a staple of the city of light’s cafés, brasseries, and bistros and uses local ingredients such as button mushrooms and ham.
The story behind Salade Parisienne
Salade parisienne, as we say in French, is on the menu of many restaurants. This recipe caused me trouble finding its origin.
It doesn’t have a significant history, except that since the early 20th century, it’s become an unmissable classic in Parisian restaurants.
The second reason is that among Parisian salad’s main ingredients are ham, called Paris ham, and button mushrooms, called Paris mushrooms.
Although there are in countless variations, the classic salade parisienne is traditionally prepared with lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, ham, cheese, mushrooms and vinaigrette.
Ham or pot au feu beef stew leftovers?
Nowadays, Parisian salad is made with ham, but the original recipe was prepared with pot-au-feu beef stew.
Have you ever heard of or tasted French pot au feu?
I still need to offer the recipe on the blog; it’s on my next autumn to-do list. Pot au feu is a beef and vegetable stew cooked for a long time. Its name literally means fire pot.
The expression designates the container – the cooking pot in the fireplace – and the contents, the dish prepared.
French writer Emile Zola described pot au feu as Parisian poor’s festive dish. It was also a classic bourgeois dish. I wonder if they already used leftovers as an ingredient of mixed salad or when it started. I still have to find out to clarify.
Nowadays, in French restaurants, the meat used is ham (baked ham, not dry-cured ham), called Jambon de Paris: Paris ham.
Paris ham is prepared with the upper part of the pig’s leg deboned, deveined, and dressed. Afterward, it is brined and cooked for several hours.
Paris ham is used in many French culinary specialties, like the ham sandwich you’ll find in all bakery / boulangerie and that is named jambon beurre (lit. ham and butter, forgetting to mention baguette as it’s evident if you want a good sandwich, then you’ll need a good baguette), or the iconic French grilled sandwich croque monsieur.
For a perfect Parisian Salad, prefer cubes of ham rather than slices. Ideally, cut a thick slice of ham into cubes or buy pre-cut ham cubes.
In France, we use the word champignon de Paris, Paris mushroom, to designate white or brown round button mushrooms.
The story is that mushrooms, which need darkness and a constant temperature with a circulation of fresh air without being too humid, were initially cultivated in abandoned quarries in the south of Paris and even in the catacombs! Until 1895, with the construction of the Paris metro, these mushroom farms left the Paris region to settle in the tufa quarries of the Loire region.
Today, ew mushroom farms left in the Loire region. (and only a few near Paris), at least not enough for French consumption. Most come from… Poland!
Choose fresh, firm button mushrooms. They can be white or brown. The brown ones I find at the market next to my home are generally denser and perfect eaten raw in a salad, as in this recipe.
Cut the mushrooms into slices to contrast with the ham and cheese cubes and add volume to the plate.
Emmental or other pressed cheese
The cheese used in Parisian salad is generally Emmental cheese. As for the ham, I suggest cutting the cheese into cubes too.
Choose a good-quality cheese. Instead of Emmental, you can use another pressed cheese. The French Comté, Beaufort, Gruyère… Or the one you will find in your country. Don’t hesitate to adapt from the traditional recipe according to your local finds. You’d better use a cheese that tastes good than buying expensive cheese or finding Emmental with poor taste.
Add hard-boiled or soft-boiled eggs
Hard-boiled or soft-boiled. It’s up to you. The cooking rule for eggs is 3-6-9:
- 3 minutes for a boiled egg
- 6 minutes for a soft-boiled egg
- 9 minutes for a hard-boiled egg
Count on a little more time if you have large eggs. Ideally, use eggs at room temperature so they don’t split when they come into contact with the boiling water.
For this recipe, I recommend 7 – 8 minutes. They should be neither runny nor too hard. Once cooked, place eggs in cold water so that they will be easier to peel.
Instructions to help you make this easy recipe
I count the proportions here per person: 1 egg, 2 to 4 button mushrooms according to their size (here 4 medium-sized, I’m somewhat generous with this ingredient, but I like it this way), 40 gr of ham, and 40 gr of cheese.
Those quantities provide a good balance of vegetables, fiber, and protein.
As for the dressing, it’s the basic vinaigrette recipe classic. Mustard, 1 tablespoon vinegar for 2 to 3 tablespoons oil.
Use neutral-tasting rapeseed oil, red wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Adjust the quantities of vinegar and oil if you like more or less acidic or oily vinaigrette. Adjust if you prefer other oil, such as olive oil, or vinegar, such as Xeres or apple cider vinegar. Old-style grainy mustard is nice too. You may have extra vinaigrette in a bowl on the table if some want more dressing.
Ideally, serve on individual plates. Gently toss salad and mushroom with vinaigrette, dress in plates, then add nicely arranged ham, cheese, and boiled egg.
I used a dish from a Parisian restaurant, la cour Saint Germain. I’ve had it for years. Please don’t ask me how I got it, I can’t remember…
Don’t forget to have a fresh baguette on the table.
So here’s how to make a restaurant-style Parisian salad.
Feel free to adapt according to the ingredients you can find or create another more personal mixed salad from this base. Adding potatoes, cornichon pickles, beans, tomatoes… And use the vinaigrette you’re familiar with. Don’t worry, Parisian bistro’s chefs also propose many variations for this dish.
Parisian Restaurant Style Mixed Salad
- 1 green salad lettuce or batavia
- 16 button mushrooms medium-size
- 160 gr Emmental or other pressed cheese Gruyère, Comté…
- 160 g ham
- 4 eggs
- 4 tablespoons rapeseed oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- salt and freshly ground pepper
Start by cooking the eggs
- Heat water in a saucepan. Once boiling, carefully add the eggs one by one with a large spoon.
- Cook for 7 to 8 minutes 9 if you want hard-boiled eggs.
- When eggs are cooked, put them in a bowl of cold water and change the water several times, so they’ll be easier to peel the shell; your final step in this preparation.
Prepare the other salad ingredients
- Dice the ham and cheese.
- Scrub the mushrooms and, if necessary, run them under clear water to dry. Cut off the bottom of the stems and slice into strips.
- Wash and spin-dry the salad.
Make the vinaigrette
- Place the mustard in the salad bowl, and add a few turns of ground pepper and a pinch of salt. Mix well.
- Add the vinegar and emulsify. Add the oil and mix again.
- Either leave everything in the salad bowl or put the salad leaves and mushroom slices in the bowl to mix with the vinaigrette.
- Then arrange them on individual plates and add the remaining ingredients: eggs, cheese, and ham.
Bon appétit !
If you are looking for other traditional French starters, I suggest indulging yourself with another mixed salad from Lyon, frisée with bacon egg and croutons.