Thursday, August 16, 2007

Look a little closer...

Pretty, isn’t it? It’s a lovely, simple salad of tomatoes, rocket and olives, with some oversized (very) garlicky croutons on the side. The perfect partner to go with the rest of the soup I grouchily posted here the other day.

But it’s not the salad per se that I wanted to write about – it’s the dressing. Only it’s a bit tricky to take interesting pictures of a salad dressing when it’s just kind of brown and liquidy:

See? That’s why the salad picture is at the top instead. Look a little closer and you’ll see the chopped onion component of the dressing. It’s one heck of a lot prettier in conjunction with the salad. More importantly, it tastes delicious and is now officially my new favourite salad dressing.

For a long time, my go-to dressing was a honey-mustard one (Jamie Oliver’s, I think). Many jars of honey and mustard would disappear during the summer months to make large batches of the good stuff and then the jars would later be recycled to store the dressings. But familiarity breeds contempt, or just tired taste buds, and I’ve been on the look out for something else to replace it for a while now.

Enter Llewellyn’s Irish Apple Balsamic Cider Vinegar. We visited the Dún Laoghaire farmers’ market a few weeks ago and I planned to do a proper post about it, I really did – but then moving house got in the way. I promise to write about it another time. What’s important for the purposes of this post is that I staggered away with several full bags of goodies (much to Mr B’s amusement), including a big bottle of cider and this fruity balsamic from David Llewellyn’s stall (he’d just won a Bridgestone Best in Ireland 2007 award, so he was a happy chappie).

We drank the cider (refreshing) and now the balsamic vinegar has found a happy place in my kitchen with this recipe. Although I think I'll be looking for flimsy excuses to put it on everything for the next wee while, so I could be on the hunt for another new recipe soon…

Balsamic vinaigrette
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

4 teaspoons of balsamic, raspberry or other fruit vinegar
2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely diced
5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine both vinegars and the chopped shallot with a few pinches of salt and a little pepper in a small bowl.
2. Whisk in the olive oil and taste to make sure the balance is right – adjust as necessary.

Cook’s notes

I didn’t have any shallots but a bit of red onion worked just fine.

Also, I tend to like my salad dressings to be a little sharper than a lot of people, so I just used four tablespoons of oil. Nothing worse than a salad swimming in an oil slick.

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