Sauce citron-huile d’olive

Crisp and tangy, this lemon-olive oil sauce may be used to season all sorts of salads and vegetables. Preparation is simplicity itself — add 3 parts olive oil to 1 part fresh lemon juice, mixing in salt, pepper and perhaps some garlic along the way.

In this as with other preparations, your success will depend on the quality of the ingredients. Never use so-called real lemon juice that comes out of a plastic bottle — only freshly squeezed lemon juice will do. Go for extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil. And as for the garlic, buy the best quality you can find. Here in France the pink garlic from Provence is very fine. Elsewhere, try to avoid the kind of garlic sold in threes in a cardboard box — it is inevitably dried out, with a tired flavor. And never, ever go near a type of product I’d rather not even mention: garlic salt or garlic powder.

Try lemon-olive oil sauce as a dressing for salads with peppery leaves, like arugula or watercress. It is delicious with salads made of spinach, beets or carrots, and works very well beside artichokes and drizzled over steamed green beans.This recipe makes enough dressing for salad for 2, and may be easily halved or multiplied.

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic

Squeeze a lemon through a sieve to obtain 2 tsp. juice. In a small bowl or the bottom of a large salad bowl, mix together the lemon juice and salt. The salt needs to be added at this stage, and not at the end, because it will dissolve better before the oil is added. Now add the oil one spoonful at a time, stirring to obtain a smooth, emulsified sauce. Grind in some black pepper.

If you would like a garlicky taste — and I recommend it — peel and halve the garlic clove. For a light garlic flavor, add the halves to the sauce for at least 10 minutes and remove before serving. For a sharp garlic flavor, mince the halves finely with a very sharp knife and add to the sauce.

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