Spring this year has been absolutely gorgeous here in Las Vegas. I can’t think of any other season where we’ve gone so long without having the heat or the air conditioning on…the days get as high as 90 and as low as 65…when you’re used to 100+ degrees by May, you are thankful every moment the cool weather lasts! It’s a perfect time to get ready for hot-weather dishes too–I’ve been getting out of my oven-recipes routine and preparing for grill season!
When I first started thinking about doing this blog, this was one of the first recipes that came to mind. This is a recipe from the French side of my family… specifically, my Aunt Simone’s. It’s funny, my Dad didn’t cook very often, but when he wanted his French-food-fix, he was in the kitchen. When I asked my family to share some recipes with me when I wanted to learn how to cook, this was the first one my Dad wrote 🙂 I can barely read the recipe anymore since it has been used so much and has taken to lots of oil and water spills in the kitchen!
The greatest thing about this recipe is it is simple, yet so flavorful. Do you have peanut oil, vinegar, and Dijon mustard? BOOM! You can make this salad. The longer you let it marinate, the better it will be. But if you need to make a salad in a snap, it is also good right away.
Now lets talk Dijon mustard here…growing up, we never messed with any dull-flavored generic “yellow” mustard in my household. Every trip to France my Dad would take, he’d load up an ENTIRE suitcase of Amora mustard, the typical mustard you find in a French grocery store. Now let me tell you, you HAVE NOT had mustard until you try this stuff! There’s so much more kick to it, it definitely changes any dish you add it to for the better. Luckily for a thing called the internet, you don’t have to go to France to get it. Its available online at amazon and FrenchyBee.com, and if you spend $50, you get it shipped free! (Stock up on some whole-grain mustard and awesome jams from this website too while you’re at it.)
This salad will go with many meals or, as the French would do, can be a separate course altogether. Dry rosé is a perfect pairing…seriously, when I first had the two together, it was such an “AHA!” moment. Vinegar-based dressings can be really difficult to pair with drinks…forget anything heavier than a light red wine. (Vinegar will make reds taste bitter.) Rosé, however, is usually packed with ripping acidity that will go hand-in-hand with the acidity from the vinaigrette. Add some fruitiness from the wine to complement the natural sugars in the tomatoes and cucumbers, and you have a perfect pairing.
Keep in mind I’m suggesting DRY rosé with this, not something sweet like white zinfandel. White zinfandel, or any sweet wine, is not going to work with this. Can you imagine having a starburst candy with a pickle? Eww. If you only drink sweet wine, this is your chance to try something dry that will taste good because it goes so well with the food you’re eating! The rosé I chose was a $9 (yes, only $9) bottle I found at Total Wine. It was actually a little difficult to choose just one, there were so many under $15 that probably would have worked perfectly! Ultimately I chose it because it is a rosé from the Anjou region of the Loire Valley in France…a region I know I couldn’t have gone wrong with. But there are countless other options (just see below for recommendations).
If you’re unfamiliar with dry rosé, it is the perfect wine for many meals that are too light for a red wine but need a bit more than a white. Made from red grapes (or a blend), wineries press it like white wine but will allow a little color to bleed from the skins into the wine, giving it a nice pink hue. Unfortunately wines like white Zinfandel have given it a bad reputation in this country. However, rosé is really one of the most versatile wines and should always be a staple in your wine inventory–it will come to the rescue whenever you have a difficult-to-pair dish or just really feel like having a refreshing wine (especially on a hot day!).
Other Pairing Suggestions
Try these Rosés from my favorite regions:
- Tavel, France (my #1 choice)
- Rhone Valley, France
- Loire Valley, France (Anjou-Saumur, Sancerre)
- Southern France (Languedoc)
- Spanish Rosé
Don’t have any rosé in the cellar? Try these alternatives:
- Sauvignon Blanc–Chilean, New Zealand, or French are great options
- Pinot Gris/Grigio–French, Italian, Oregon
- Hefeweizen or other wheat beer
- Gueuze (beer)
- 2 Ripe Tomatoes
- 1 Cucumber
- ½ Vidalia (sweet, white) Onion
- 1 tsp good Dijon Mustard (do not use course mustard)
- ½ Cup White Vinegar
- ¼ Cup Peanut Oil
- Oregano and Fresh Parsley
- Slice the tomatoes, cucumber and sweet onion as thin as possible. Place them in layers in a medium bowl.
- Whisk together the white vinegar, peanut oil, and dijon mustard. Add oregano and parsley as you desire (can easily be made with both, one, or none of the herbs).
- Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Mix vegetables in with it if they are not completely submerged.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or even longer to really soak in the vinaigrette. This salad is also excellent, but not as fresh, the next day.
Serve with crusty French bread and butter, and don’t forget the rosé!