In this humid weather, the desire to bake is replaced with the desire for salad and lighter fare. Salads are the fix for hot weather. Some time ago I had the fortunate opportunity to live in Europe. While there I met many extraordinary women cooks from different countries. They were all very willing to share their cooking talents with me – the perpetual beginner.
As I look through my recipes that I gathered, they remind me of the many happy times with friends sharing homemade foods and treats.
How to make a French salad comes from a French woman, (whom I met at school) who was married to a very nice Dutchman. They had a young son, David. I visited with them for dinner. Her family was charming and friendly. What attracted me, while she was cooking, was her salad. Curious how a French person would make a salad, I watched with fascination as she worked and asked her about how she prepared it.
Solange, started with a glass bowl. In that, she first added olive oil, about 3-4 tablespoons, then wine vinegar. (1 part vinegar to 3 parts olive oil.) Then she sliced 3 shallots into slivers (shallots?) An herb like thyme (whatever appeals to you works) was added. Then came the fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt and she whisked it all together with a fork and added fresh greens.
Last night romaine lettuce was on the menu. Solange tore her greens into pieces after rinsing and draining. Next, fresh carrot slices, black olives, and goat cheese were added. The whole effect was a new experience for me. How simple! Shallots (onion family) added zip and tang to the blend of herbs with the oil and vinegar. I finally liked salad.
I tossed the greens in the bowl with the olive oil and wine vinegar mixture. Making sure that the greens are well mixed with the vinaigrette. Added the olives and sliced carrots and goat cheese on top. I had a few slices of herring in wine on my salad to replace my usual cheese – reduced the cholesterol content.
Add fresh French bread and you have a perfect salad, for a humid evening.
Sometimes I use balsamic vinegar and there are some variations that you can check out at the blue highlighted link for vinaigrette.
As a plug for local goat cheese producers, I bought Stickney Hills from the co-op for my salads or for a spread on crackers. Check out the goat cheese link (in blue) on local foods; go to the G for goat cheese in the article attached from Minnesota Monthly Magazine to learn more about where and what you can by locally.
As the French say, À votre santé ! To your health!