Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Autumn salads / Salades d'automne

Don't get me wrong, I love winter food; it sticks to your bones, fills you up and keeps you warm! I'm not ready to give out on summer just yet though. One of the advantages of living in the South of France is that the thermometer is stuck at 24 degrees even though it's October! This doesn't, however, mean that we can cheat the seasons. One look at the market stalls where the tomatoes and aubergines have been replaced by turnips, apples and grapes testifies to an undeniable fact: autumn is here. 

Autumn is my favourite season. I love the colours of the trees, the cooler temperatures mean no more sunburn and I have an excuse to make tasty autumnal dishes like this brie, hazelnut and grape salad.

This idea came to me from a similar salad in the 'October' volume of my Sud Ouest Gourmand collection. I really love this set of cookery books. Not only do they feature seasonal recipies (being based on the months of the year) but they also use ingredients that are normally easy to come by in the area.

Chop up half a block of brie, wash a big bunch of black grapes and cut them in half. Wash your salad leaves (I chose rocket as I like the peppery taste but you can use any seasonal leaves) and mix together in a big serving bowl. Sprinkle over some roasted hazelnuts for a bit of extra protein and a nice crunchy texture. 

The little secret to this recipe is the dressing. As this is quite a sweet salad due to the grapes and the brie can be a bit rich, you need something acidic to cut through the flavours. 

  Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a little bowl. Add salt and pepper, two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and 4 teaspoons of olive oil. Whisk together with a fork. Finely dice a shallot and add to the mixture. Drizzle over the salad. 

This dish is enough on its own for two people as a lunchtime meal but if you want to make it a bit more filling serve with a slice or two of country ham. 

This dish is easy to make, really tasty and perfectly in harmony with the seasons. What more could you ask for? Maybe seconds!

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