Salad Days

I don’t know if anyone's mentioned this to you already but it’s really, really hot today.

When it’s like this, the only things I want to eat are ice cream and salads so I am using this as excuse to tell you about my favourite new ingredient: salad-enhancer extraordinaire Moscatel vinegar.

moscatel salad dressing

It was only a little while ago that I discovered it, lunching with a friend at Brindisa. I like to have a green item if I'm eating tapas or small plates - if only as nod towards health amidst all the fried/cheesy/meaty things - so we dutifully ordered the Green Salad With Muscatel Vinaigrette. It was very much a where-have-you-been-all-my-life moment. The vinegar is sharp/sweet and has something almost flowery about it that went perfectly with the herbs in the salad. 

After after lunch we trooped across Borough Market to Brindisa's shop and both of us ended up buying a bottle.

The waitress said there wasn't much else in the dressing apart from olive oil and honey so when I attempted to recreate it home I decided to up my game, replacing normal honey with truffled stuff which was even more delicious. It’s not dissimilar to My standard French dressing which is is three parts oil to one part white wine vinegar with a spoonful of Dijon mustard and some salt, sugar and pepper. There's more honey here to echo the sweetness of the vinegar and it makes all the difference.

moscatel salad dressing

I eat this at least twice a week for lunch at the moment, usually with a salad of little gem, rocket, cucumber, radishes, chives and mint. It pleases me greatly. The different greens, pale and cool lettuce and cucumber against darker, peppery rocket, the contrasting pink and white of the radishes, and the finely chopped chives, like beading on a party dress. Something so pretty can't help but give you a midday boost. Especially when it only takes five minutes to throw together. It’s great with tuna or beans and topped with toasted seeds.

As well as the dressing, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, just before serving, is a must for me. For the crunchy texture as much as the taste.

 

Moscatel & Truffle Honey Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 100ml olive oil
  • 30ml Moscatel vinegar
  • 2tsps truffle honey

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients together in a sealable bottle or jar. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
  2. Shake until combined. Make sure all the honey has dissolved.
  3. The dressing keeps in the cupboard more or less indefinitely but, I suspect, won’t last terribly long!

Ifs And Ands

  • This is, of course, super nice with normal honey instead of the fancy truffle stuff. 
  • You can put fresh herbs in the dressing rather than the salad. When they're finely chopped and coat the leaves with the oil it’s a subtly different experience to when they're mixed in with the leaves. Try finely chopped mint, chives, basil, parsley, even tarragon - a couple of tablespoon altogether for a large salad. Don’t add them to the main dressing container if there’s going to be some left over as everything will go soggy and horrid. Portion off what you’ll need, add the herbs to that, then dress the salad.
  • You could put a mild mustard in this for a sweetish vinaigrette, a tiny dab of Dijon maybe. But then I’d use normal honey or brown sugar.
  • It's lovely with a tomato and herb salad too.