Friday, December 19, 2008

Honey and mustard salad dressing

One of the surprising things about eating out in Spain is how poor the salads are. (I was going to try to find a more upbeat way of putting this, but I can't.) They are usually dreadful, consisting of tasteless iceberg lettuce, large chunks of onion and, if you are lucky, some tomato and tinned tuna. The awfulness of the salads is matched by a truly unimaginative approach to 'dressing' them by dousing them in vinegar, trying to compensate with some oil, and then sprinkling a bit of salt on top.

The old saying which urges that the salad maker be a spendthrift with the oil, a miser with the vinegar, and a wise man with salt constitutes a good starting point for dressing the salad in the bowl. However, I am always struck by the fact that, when we have visitors over from the UK, they make the dressing separately and use a range of other ingredients. I always resolve to copy their effort and give up my sloppy Spanish practices.

The following is a basic dressing, emulsified using mustard, and with a bit of honey to offset the bitterness of the olive oil.

  • English mustard
  • wine or cider vinegar
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • honey

  1. Put about a teaspoon of mustard in a bowl (more if you are dressing a large salad), add a couple of teaspoons of vinegar and about half a teaspoon of salt, and mix very well.
  2. Gradually add plenty of olive oil, mixing well so that it forms an emulsion.
  3. Add half a teaspoon or so of honey, and mix well.
  4. Pour over the salad and toss just before you are about to serve.

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