My husband and I were cooking for friends one Saturday night, after just getting back into town. We developed a menu together, discussing ideas and looking through magazines for inspiration, and then we made two shopping lists – planning to divide and conquer the supermarket scene.
When writing down the ingredients we had to shop for, I thought my husband had chosen a completely different recipe, and wrote down cherry tomatoes and creme fraiche instead of the chicken and lentils he required to make his dish. Despite my initial confusion, somehow we both arrived back at the house with all of the ingredients that were needed, and enjoyed our dinner with wonderful friends – and I still had all the ingredients for this French Salad, which I made the next day.
PICKLED MUSTARD SEEDS
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup white vinegar
4 ounces cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
salt and pepper
4 slices bacon, cut into strips
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup creme fraiche
salt and pepper
chopped chives for garnish
PICKLE THE MUSTARD SEEDS
In a small saucepan, combine the mustard seeds and vinegar and bring to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand for an hour.
MAKE THE DRESSING
Heat the oven to 450F. In a small ovenproof skillet or baking dish, toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast for 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have popped and are browned in spots. Transfer to a blender. Add the remaining ingredients, puree until smooth.
MAKE THE SALAD
In a small skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. In a small bowl, blend the blue cheese with the creme fraiche until smooth. Dollop the mixture onto plates and spread slightly. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with half of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the lettuce on top of the blue cheese mixture. Garnish with the pickled mustard seeds, bacon and chives. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, April 2015