‘Salad Accompaniments and Dressings’ – p.178

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I must be honest, there’s a possibility that it may be difficult to make this one seem all that interesting, which is ironic because, in this house, the subject is as important as any other in terms of the meals we eat day to day.

It may not have escaped the notice of the eagle-eyed that we tend to eat a salad with every meal. Sometimes, it’s an elaborate affair, containing toasted nuts, oven-crisped croutons, a complementary cheese and a variety of leaves, and sometimes, it’s a few crisp, lightly dressed gem leaves, or simply a grated carrot tossed with pumpkin seeds, lemon juice and a few drops of toasted sesame oil. However complex the preparation, salad has come to play an important role in what we eat here, lightening heavy meals, providing some palate-cleansing interest to simple pasta dishes or bulking out leftovers which, on their own, might not fill us up.

One thing that varies a little less is what’s come to be the House Dressing here: a simple French-style vinaigrette of olive oil, white wine vinegar (about 6/1 of former/latter), french mustard and honey, sometimes with a handful of finely chopped herbs, and sometimes just as it is. I have experimented with adding finely chopped garlic, lemon juice, various other oils, and dollops of creme fraiche, but nothing does the sit-in-a-bottle-and-still-taste-fine-after-a-week job of the basic recipe mentioned above, and for that, I thank it. Sometimes though, a simple, fresh dressing, punchy and direct is what’s called for, and for this I turned to Nigel.

This one couldn’t be more straightforward: a very generous slug of the best olive oil we have (a clean, peppery, fruity Tuscan number which I’d gladly drink by the glass were I a rich man), half a lemon’s worth of juice, and half a clove of garlic, crushed to a paste with some salt beneath the flat of a knife. With all those beautiful things in it, it could hardly not be delicious.

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We had it tossed in a salad of leftover roast chicken, leaves, beetroot, goat’s cheese, avocado and microscopically thin slices of raw red onion, alongside an augmented hummus (whose basic recipe was taken from the unsurpassed Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi which, it would’t be too grandiose to say, changed my life a bit) and a loaf of bread, barely cooled from its baking in the oven that afternoon. It was basically a leftovers dinner and, like the best of them, it was entirely pleasurable, in a way that something which only meal essentially prepared in the time it took to put the stuff on a plate can be.

Buy your own copy of Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Fast Food’ HERE.

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