Awww, you're all just so lovely :) Thank you for all the sweet comments after my return to blogland. I feel all invigorated to continue and am very pleased to be just managing to sneak in under the wire for this month's No Croutons Required. It's Holler's birthday edition, you see, so it seemed like an extra shame to miss it.
My salad is a very simple one, but the dressing makes it amazing. It's a speciality of my friend Charles, whom I visited yesterday. Charles and I go way back, right back to the first day of university, in fact, and I have him to thank for my initiation into the ways of toasted cheese sandwiches with pickles, how not to make stock, and how to dismount from a bike while it's still moving (actually I've never dared try that again after my debut). Charles' cooking skills have moved on from the cheese toastie days and both times I've seen him recently he's made a version of this salad. It's essentially a mix of lettuce, tomato and cucumber, with assorted other raw veggies and some fruit. The first time he used sliced apples, and this time it was grapes (I nearly made myself ill gorging on all the grapes!). The dressing is what brings it all together in a silky mustardyness, and was passed on to him by his dad. I hope I've remembered it correctly though I'm sure it would stand some customising. My own salad was a a bit of a pared down version as our fridge was a bit low on ingredients - some rocket and watercress, chopped tomatoes and cucumber, and some sliced pear. I added a lot of tomatoes since they are the theme of No Croutons Required this month. I love the smell of fresh tomatoes and am hoping that I'll have some more home-grown ones this year. They are (hopefully) germinating on the kitchen table, along with some peas, broad beans, herbs, and a small cucumber plant I bought on a whim today in the garden centre.
Since it's her birthday Holler has asked that we describe a whole meal to go with our tomato offerings. I'm sending over what I ate my salad alongside as it was fun: sauteed mushrooms, leeks and chard with some thyme and basil in a bit of tomato sauce, wrapped in pancakes. I served mine with some leftover sweet potato soup over the top as a sauce. It doesn't look too pretty but I think it was birthday-worthy. And just in case it's not, I'd bring out a luscious chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing as a dessert :)
Salad dressing au Charles
Put into a jar:
1 thumb of vinegar (not balsamic)
1 tsp English mustard
1 tsp salt
2 thumbs of olive oil
Shake and dress.