Spinach Salad Lyonnaise

We all remember the original Spinach Salad, often topped with sliced raw mushrooms, bacon and hard-boiled egg.  Sometimes it was garnished with shredded Swiss cheese and croutons as well.  The dressings varied.  It might be a Dijon vinaigrette, warm bacon dressing or poppyseed dressing.  As people tired of this, spinach salads with fruit (strawberries, figs, pears), nuts and often feta or goat cheese and sweeter style dressings became popular – and still are.  But I promised you a new twist on the original old favorite.  The ingredients will sound familiar – spinach, bacon, egg, croutons and vinaigrette.  Spinach Salad Lyonnaise hits all the high notes and more and will transport you to a French bistro with a hint of Italy.  Vive la difference!

Salade Lyonnaise is a traditional French bistro classic that originated in Lyon, France.  Lyon is touted as one of the best gastronomic cities in France.  The French call it a salad, but it is hearty enough for brunch, lunch or a dinner entrée.  I have replaced the frisée lettuce that is typical in Lyonnaise salad with baby spinach leaves.  Pancetta (my nod to Italy) is used instead of bacon or lardons. Homemade croutons add crunch and a beautiful poached egg on top creates a silky, second dressing that mellows out the tart Red Wine Shallot Vinaigrette.  Or you might prefer a jammy, unctuous “Six-Minute Egg” if poached eggs are not your thing.  The different textures, flavors, and colors make this an impressive salad!        

Spinach Salad Lyonnaise

Baby spinach leaves are the perfect foil for crispy cubes of pancetta, tasty, homemade croutons, and a punchy Red Wine Shallot Vinaigrette. The crowning glory, a beautiful poached egg brings it all together harmoniously. Perfection!
Author Rosalie D’Amico


Salad Ingredients

  • NOTE: This is a composed salad presented individually. The following ingredients are recommended for one entrée size salad.
  • 1 large handful baby spinach leaves (about 2 cups loosely packed)
  • 2 ounces pancetta, cut into small dice and sauteed until golden brown and slightly crisp (drain well on paper towels)
  • ½ cup croutons, preferably homemade
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons Red Wine Shallot Vinaigrette
  • 1 soft to medium poached egg
  • Flakey sea salt for serving
  • Finely chopped chives for garnish (optional)

Red Wine Shallot Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Black pepper to taste


Salad Ingredients

  • Arrange spinach leaves in individual plates. I like to use a shallow pasta dish. It looks beautiful and holds everything nicely.
  • Drizzle lightly with vinaigrette. Spinach leaves are very delicate and the vinaigrette is tart and punchy – a little goes a long way.
  • Distribute the pancetta and croutons over the greens. Top with the egg. Sprinkle the egg with sea salt and garnish with chives, if using.

Red Wine Shallot Vinaigrette

  • Whisk mustard, vinegar, and salt together. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking until emulsified.
  • Stir in shallots and thyme.
  • Add black pepper to taste.

Perfect 6-Minute Eggs (A soft-boiled egg with a creamy golden yolk – neither liquid nor solid. Jammy and unctuous with the perfect amount of ooze!)

  • Leave eggs out at room temperature 30 minutes prior to cooking.
  • You can cook up to 8 eggs at one time. If you are cooking several eggs, you might want to put them in a steamer basket so they all go into the water at the same time.
  • Use a large enough pot so the eggs are not piled on each other and eggs are covered by at least 1” of water.
  • Bring water to a rolling boil. Lower eggs into water and keep heat at a slow boil.
  • Set timer for 6 minutes for a slightly runny yolk or 6½ minutes for just a bit of ooze.
  • Have a bowl of ice water ready and transfer the cooked eggs to the ice water to stop the cooking process.


This dressing holds well and is delicious on most salads as well as steamed vegetables like asparagus. It can also be used a dressing for Potato Salad (see page 48 in the cookbook).
There are many delicious variations for this salad. Instead of croutons, add some diced, fried potatoes to the salad. Fry the potatoes in the pancetta fat. Replace the poached egg with an over easy egg or a 6-minute boiled egg. Use different greens – arugula, escarole, and curly endive all work well.
Get Cheffy: Reserve a little of the pancetta cooking fat and use it to make homemade croutons! Mmmmmm!
6-Minute Egg