It is high summer and that means that there is a need for dishes that are better eaten warm than hot, for desserts that can be prepared the day before and enjoyed the next day, for refreshing drinks that will replenish and refresh you, all using the summer’s best ingredients.
So here we have it, a summer lunch just as good whether it is eaten warm or cool. Just a recipe suggestion for an easy and basic salad vinaigrette to which you can add different vinegars, use local honey and a mild mustard instead of the Bavarian sweet mustard that I used together with the Dijon mustard. Or add different kinds of herbs from your garden, think parsley, tarragon, basil…go where your mood takes you.
A fresh summer salad and a tangy vinaigrette go hand in hand, as you can hardly enjoy one without the other. Vinaigrettes should lightly coat a salad without overwhelming it. But a good vinaigrette can do so much more. It can enhance the flavors of the ingredients or add another dimension altogether. It can bring together different elements as well as provide much-needed moisture to drier ingredients.
It is easy and fast to make your own from scratch, and a homemade vinaigrette tastes so much better than store-bought. Plus, by mixing your own, you take control of the flavor balance - think acidity, sweetness, and seasoning - as well as what goes into it, so you can avoid undesired ingredients.
A summery salad topped with a zingy vinaigrette, a lovely local cheese and toasted bread slices make for a wonderful lunch when the weather heats up.
Here, I just added the vinaigrette to my yellow and green French beans to serve alongside some boiled new Baby potatoes (leave that skin on when boiling), French sea salt, Gorgonzola dolce, local bread, and some raspberries that we picked that day...
When dressing beans with a vinaigrette, make sure that they are dry and cooled before you add the vinaigrette. If you prefer a more tangy bean salad with a more acid overtone, dress the beans with the vinaigrette sans the oils while they are still warm and THEN add the oils to the cooled beans – you will end up with a vinaigrette that has a more pronounced vinegar flavor and that will not look quite as emulsified but that´s is definitely just as delicious.
Basic Vegetable Salad Vinaigrette
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1tsp Bavarian sweet mustard (if you cannot find it at your supermarket, deli, or online, you can sub a mild grainy mustard and then add a tsp of mild runny honey)
- 3½ tbsp sunflower oil
- 3½ tbsp mild olive oil
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- freshly cut chives OR other soft herbs such as Italian (flat leaf) parsley, tarragon or basil
- Whisk together the white wine vinegar and mustards in a bowl until smooth and well combined.
- Gradually whisk in the sunflower oil and olive oil until the mixture has thickened and is glossy.
- Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- To serve, drizzle the vinaigrette over the summer salad/cooked vegetables and mix well to coat the vegetables.
- Divide equally among serving plates.
Feel free to dress your potatoes, tomatoes, fennel, salad greens, asparagus, peas, or radishes - a summery vegetable salad is meant to be easy, good-natured food for the dog days of summer.
When preparing this just remember to use the best of summer-season vegetables, fruits and herbs and enjoy what nature has to offer us these days. And do not forget about that favorite cheese of yours, maybe from a local producer, and your favorite bread from the bakery in your neighbourhood.