I learned two new things this week while trying to recreate a salad I'd eaten at the Simon Pearce glass-blowing factory's restaurant in Vermont. There wasn't anything too special about it—just field greens—but something about the vinaigrette was unlike anything I'd tasted before. Luckily, our waitress didn't seem concerned about giving away any secrets, and shared the recipe: olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, dried basil, salt and pepper, and then, the key: malt vinegar.
The dressing was easy to recreate—three-to-one oil to acid ratio, with half lemon juice and half malt vinegar—and it had that same distinct taste I remembered. But something else wasn't right. The greens I used were the triple-washed mesclun variety I always bought in tubs at the grocery store, tender but boring, the same all year-round. Which led to my second lesson: at the Greenmarket I found an absolutely bulging $5 bag of spicy, hearty leaves, ranging from mustard greens to baby chard to other curly things I didn't recognize (but tasted fantastic). It made the salad substantial, interesting, and in season.
- 2 large handfuls field greens, washed and dried
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon malt vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the acids, then add the olive oil drop by drop at first, then in a slow stream, whisking constantly, until an emulsion forms and it tastes right. Alternatively, add the oil and acids to a small jar and shake vigorously until emulsified.
Add the dried basil, parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the dressing to a serving bowl followed by the greens. Toss the greens gently in the dressing. Add an additional pinch of salt and turn of pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.