I’ve just spent two fabulous weeks based in Saint Severin southern France – this delicious green salad with a walnut oil and Roquefort cheese dressing became our daily go-to dinner starter and is named in its honour. Eating out in France isn’t quite what it used to be, their culinary supremacy is no longer something to be taken for granted, but their produce markets are still quite fantastic and can still teach us a thing or two. We bought delicious, lush, frilly leaved lettuce, local walnut oil, creamy Roquefort and flavoursome apple cider vinegar to create this salad which the family insisted that I make pretty much every evening. Try it and you’ll understand why. The quality of each individual ingredient and the care with which it is prepared is what raises it from the ordinary to the sublime – good news too if you grow your own lettuce!
You will need…
- A head of crisp, full leafed lettuce serves six. For best results, use a freshly cut whole lettuce, not a ready prepared one in a sealed bag
- A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
- 4 teaspoons of walnut oil
- A pinch of sea salt
- 150g Roquefort cheese
- Optional:1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts (here I use Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ Chilean golden walnuts)
Wash the lettuce in plenty of cold water, dry it thoroughly (preferably in a salad spinner) and tear it by hand into medium sized pieces in a deep salad bowl. The leaves must be as dry as possible so that the dressing will coat them properly. Crumble half of the cheese over the leaves.
Whisk the oil, vinegar and salt thoroughly in a small bowl until it looks creamy. Taste and adjust if necessary – add a little more vinegar if it isn’t acidic enough, or a drop or two more of the oil if the vinegar overpowers the flavour.
Just before you want to eat it, pour the dressing over the torn leaves and toss carefully and thoroughly with your salad servers until each leaf is completely coated with a thin, lustrous film of flavour. Just dribbling a bit of dressing on a lettuce and leaving it in globs on the surface is a minor culinary crime in my book – it’s called salad dressing not a sauce after all! Don’t try to dress it ahead of time or it will become slimy if the weather is hot. The cheese will emulsify slightly into the dressing and add flavour. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese (and the walnuts if you use them) over the top of the salad and serve.
NB: We stayed at this beautiful farmhouse in Saint Severin bookable on Owners Direct. Nearest airports are Bordeaux, Bergerac or Limoges.