My Italian family seemed to only know of one dressing: olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Fair enough, when you’ve got a mixture of incredible produce — fresh crisp lettuce, sweet juicy tomatoes and soft luscious mozzarella — all it should be accompanied by is some high-quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to emphasize their flavors. And some Maldon salt. That’s it. And you know what? Really good extra-virgin olive oil alone sometimes is all that is necessary to perk up pretty much anything from a steak to an ice cream. That said, if you’re serving a feast of dishes all dressed with olive oil, you’re a lazy bast*rd.
So, to mix things up a bit, look in your cupboards. If you lack inspiration you need to stock up. I usually do combinations of different mustards and different sweeteners and usually still with olive oil. So it could be multigrain mustard, maple syrup and olive oil, and maybe some finely chopped garlic. Or it could be dijon mustard and honey and olive oil with some spring onion, and maybe some capers.
So with just five minutes of chopping and whisking, the flavors of an otherwise boring assembly of ingredients can really flourish when drenched in a lovely dressing.
I had made a salad. It was an ensemble of what I had in my cupboards and freezer – freekeh, lentils and peas. I wanted to make a Spring salad and by default, using cupboard ingredients instead of fresh one makes it not Spring. That realization made me sad. Then I made this dressing and I was happy again. I’m a volatile but simple human being.
Makes about half a cup of dressing
2 preserved lemons
2 tsp juice from the preserved lemon jar
A bunch of mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp runny honey, or to taste
4 tbsp olive oil, or to taste
1 tbsp cider vinegar, or to taste
Cut the lemons into quarters. Remove the flesh and discard.
Finely chop the lemon skin and whisk together with all the other ingredients except for the mint leaves. Stir in the mint leaves at the end and flavor things up.