When Mark and I head to France we really do embrace the Southern way of eating. Lunch is the biggest meal, by far – well, except maybe that 7 hour dinner we had one night – but that’s another story…. The typical Southern French lunch is complete with wine, grilled meat, salad, plain kettle chips, cheese, bread, fruit, and some sort of dessert – whether it be a Fougasse D’Aigues Mortes or cornettos. This is quite obviously followed by a mid-afternoon siesta. My favourite item on the menu has, and will always be, the salad. Tomatoes, fresh herbs, sweet onions, lots of garlic, Dijon, and delicious olive oil really make it shine. While we might not have access to the picture perfect quality of the ingredients you can expect in France, I have taken the liberty of giving you my rendition of our the typical Tomato, Sweet Onion, & Chèvre Salad.
NOTE: The French will likely shudder at this recipe. They would never put chèvre in a salad. “You eat cheese with bread, after the meal” – they would say.
French Tomato, Sweet Onion & Chèvre Salad
- 2 lbs. tomatoes (heirloom, grape, vine-ripe), halved or quartered (depending on what size you choose)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion (Walla Walla work great!)
- 2 free-range, organic, hard-boiled eggs, peeled & quartered
- 2 oz. soft chèvre, crumbled
- 5 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
- Fleur de sel & freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small), minced
- A couple drops fresh lemon juice
- A few glugs good quality extra-virgin olive oil
In a salad bowl, combine tomatoes, sweet onion, hard-boiled eggs, chèvre, and basil. Toss together, lightly, to evenly distribute the ingredients.
In a small bowl, add in garlic and Dijon. Using a fork mix together. Add in a couple drops of lemon juice, and combine. While mixing with the fork, slowly drizzle in a bit of EVOO – being careful not to let the solution separate. After about a tablespoon of oil, taste the vinaigrette – if it is still a bit too pungent, add in about another tablespoon. Taste again. At this point, it should be perfect. Season with a little fleur de sel and freshly cracked black pepper.
Spoon a little of the vinaigrette over the salad (it will be a bit thicker than you are used to). Combine gently so as to not break up the eggs too much, and smear the cheese.
Taste the salad and season with fleur de sel and freshly cracked black pepper as needed.
Serve with your favourite grilled meat or poultry. This is the perfect salad for a hot day in the South of France, or in your own back-yard!