Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arugula tossed in a Truffle Oil & Sherry Vinaigrette – a 5 Star French Salad



If you’re looking for something fancy to serve with a special dinner, this sexy little arugula salad might just be it. The arugula is gently tossed with a truffle oil and sherry vinaigrette and finished with a dusting of rich Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds for just the right amount of saltiness. The sophisticated, earthy flavors of the truffle oil mixed with the rich tartness of the sherry vinegar pair well with rich meats such as a filet mignon or beefy prime rib.

The word truffle conjures up thoughts of wintertime in Provence with pigs sniffing for truffles followed by old men in heavy coats adhering to ancient rituals and secret destinations passed down through the centuries from their ancestors. Today you can go on guided truffle hunting trips in France while living in luxurious accommodations and dining at the best local restaurants that specialize in truffles. If you would like to know more, my friend Christine of Fresh Local & Best wrote about her truffle hunting excursion in the Luberon region of Provence that I know you will enjoy reading. It’s a fantastic foodie experience and will provide great hunting stories you can pass on to your grandchildren.  

The first time I tasted a black truffle was in a little olive oil tasting shop in the south of France on the boulevard Victor Hugo in the small village of Saint-Remy-de-Provence. The truffle’s strong earthy flavor reminded me of exotic mushrooms and it smelled of heady perfume. We purchased a bottle of black truffle oil that day, carefully wrapped it in bubble wrap, and tucked it in our suitcase to bring home. Since then I’ve found that truffle oil is easy to find in gourmet shops and some supermarkets in the US and you don’t have to lug it home from Provence. Although if you’re looking for an excuse to go to Provence, please don’t let me stop you from using, “I need some good truffle oil” as the reason.

There are three star ingredients in this salad – infused black truffle oil, Spanish sherry vinegar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from Italy.


Infused black truffle oil begins with pressed oil. The brand I purchased, La Tourangelle, uses organic sunflower oil so its flavor won’t interfere with the aroma like olive oil may do. The oil is slowly infused with the black truffle aroma following a 150 year old French method. Black truffles originate in Provence in France and are one of the most precious ingredients in Mediterranean cooking. The strong earthy flavor of this oil will bring a deep aroma to your dishes and is heavenly drizzled in mashed potatoes with chives. After opening it  should be stored in the refrigerator to retain its flavor.

Sherry vinegar comes from Spain. The brand I’ve chosen, Columela, is aged for 30 years in oak barrels (just like wine) until it mellows. It’s made from the same grapes that are used to produce Spain’s famous sherries. I always have a bottle on my shelf because it’s wonderful tossed with equal parts walnut oil and a neutral tasting oil such as grapeseed oil to make a fantastic robust vinaigrette for green salads that I’ve topped with Roquefort cheese and toasted walnuts. I also use sherry vinegar in French lentil salads.

Parmigiano-Reggiano, often called Parmesan cheese, is aged for at least two years and its depth of flavor is the result of the long aging process. This is a special salad and uses expensive ingredients. Don’t be tempted to buy the pre-grated Parmesan cheese from the deli in plastic containers. It’s not worth the money and tastes a bit on the sawdust side. Honestly, it doesn’t even come close to the flavor of freshly grated cheese. Buy a wedge of the real stuff from Italy. The words Parmigiano-Reggianos will be stenciled on the rind and it mean you are buying the finest, which is produced in the areas of Bologna, Mantua, Modena, or Parma (from which the name of this cheese originated). Martha Stewart recommends removing the cheese from its plastic wrap and store, covered first with parchment paper or wax paper, then covered again with aluminum foil, in the cheese section of your refrigerator for maximum preservation of flavor.


5 Star French Arugula Salad with Truffle Oil and Sherry Vinaigrette
Adapted slightly from You Can Trust a Skinny Cook by Allison Fishman

Vinaigrette:
1 ½ tablespoons black truffle oil
2 teaspoons Spanish sherry vinegar

Salad:
1 5-ounce box of arugula
¼ cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, grated freshly from a wedge of real Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste

In a glass jar with a screw top lid, combine the truffle oil with the sherry vinegar and shake well to mix. Set the vinaigrette aside while you assemble the salad.

In a large bowl, combine the arugula, sunflower seeds, and Parmesan cheese and toss well. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss again to combine. Season the greens with freshly ground black pepper, then taste to see if the salad needs salt. If so, add sea salt to taste.



Cook's notes:
For best results with the Parmesan cheese, grate with a microplane grater to achieve "snow-like" light  and fluffy cheese.

This recipe will be linked to Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable. Please join me there for more great recipes and menu ideas.


41 comments:

  1. I already have the seeds for my little garden plot but I am reminded that I love arugula!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. a simple recipe oozing w/deliciousness! i see truffle oil often now and have a bottle on the shelf.

    best,
    bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't believe I've ever had truffle anything and I guess I should correct that. Your salad looks beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That salad is terrific! It contains everything I love. *drool*

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love truffles and truffle oil. This recipe sounds delightful Sam!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I do adore arugula - and actually have all the ingredients (although I am sure my truffle oil is olive oil based). This is perfect for a spring lunch with a hunk of bread. I love how many flavors are in one simple green salad.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This arugula salad would be the star of the show-a few really fresh ingredients, a splash of something exotic (black truffle oil) and not to mention a nice crisp white wine. It really comes together nicely.

    Velva

    ReplyDelete
  8. What is not to love about this salad Sam. You have made me anxious for our trip to Provence. Will have to see if I can find these ingredients in the meantime.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Looks great. For some reason we haven't been able to get arugula for several weeks. I had to use spinach for the baked chicken with lemons and olives. It was great, but I love the taste of arugula. Our produce manager has no idea why he hasn't been able to get it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Heavenly...a perfect salad for Mother's Day! ....or, anytime. But, I am thinking perfect for MD.

    ReplyDelete
  11. 5 stars? Try 10 stars! This looks amazingly fresh and delicious

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh my goodness, what a beautiful salad! These ingredients are fantastic, Sam. I have no doubt that this is a 5-star salad. I brought home a jar of black truffle infused sea salt from Paris and have been portioning it out like it is gold. I love that earthy, pungent aroma.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's over the top, 5 stars plus! It looks and sounds delicious and I will be looking for truffle oil soon. Thanks for the recipe for this gorgeous looking, perfectly dressed salad!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great flavors packed in your salad, Sam! I love using truffle oil in my vinaigrette but have never made it with Spanish sherry vinegar. The sunflower seeds are a nice surprise too.
    Always love to read arugula referred to as rocket by the British, don't you?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sam, I would love to try this, but the cost of truffle oil makes me nervous. What if I don't like it? I hear the judges on Food Network channel constantly berate cooks for using truffle oil. How I wish you lived next door so I could just grab a bite to see if I like it. Everything you make looks so yummy and beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sam, this salad seems like it's over the top with flavor, and I'm looking forward to making it!

    Have a lovely weekend!

    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  17. This salad looks awesome, and how can you argue with the marriage of something so awesome as truffle oil and good parmigiano-reggiano? Thanks so much for adding links to my truffle trip. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

    ReplyDelete
  18. A fantastic salad. Simple, fresh and SPRING! I absolutely love it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Delish!!...you just feel good after eating something so healthy and delicious too.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love truffle oil and have the exact same brand that you have! I can't wait to try this salad - all I need is a soft boiled egg on top :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Yes, you're right. This arugula salad is very sexy. I love the peppery flavor and the beautiful vinaigrette. I should make arugula salads more often... I even love it atop pizzas. Beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you! how fun is this? Sam, I just happen to have some truffle oil, parmigiano-romano cheese and picked arugula yesterday! I can't imagine anything being more meant-to-be. Sounds like our guest this evening will enjoy this with us. We'll raise our glass to you.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is food at it's best - great ingredients - fantastic taste - very nice recipe!!
    Mary x

    ReplyDelete
  24. I support any writer who can include the line, "this sexy little arugula salad."

    ReplyDelete
  25. I went truffle hunting once but must have used the wrong shotgun....it kept blowing the truffles to bits ;)

    The salad looks simply perfect, Sam. Hope you and Meakin are doing well.

    ReplyDelete
  26. would love a small plate of this right now :-)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Sam this looks like all the ingredients for a perfect salad! I adore arugula and always like to keep it on hand!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I can taste this as I read! Arugula is one of my favorite things.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love that a few simple ingredients can combine to make a delicious, elegant dish. Wonderful salad, Sam!

    ReplyDelete
  30. This sounds like a wonderful salad! It really looks divine, too.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I am growing arugula this year in my garden.
    I can't wait to try this recipe!!! What a elegant dressing!
    You weave the most interesting stories. You make truffle hunting sound like hunting for gold... on second thought it's almost the same!
    Beautiful post, my friend!
    Yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  32. I have become such an arugula fan and this sounds wonderful. I've had things tossed with White truffle oil, but never had black. I'm pinning this one so I don't forget about it. Thanks Sam.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I am beyond impressed; I want to make this I am going to make this but...where can I find these ingredients; keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for sharing this gem.
    Rita

    ReplyDelete
  34. Mmm this looks totally delicious!

    xxx
    ps thank you so much for the lovely note too xo

    ReplyDelete
  35. I love using truffle oil but never thought of using it on a salad. What a great idea.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Dear Sam, A real good salad. I have never had truffle oil. I hear so much about it, especially on the cooking shows. It is supposed to be divine. Someday I hope to try it. Blessings dear Sam. Catherine xo

    ReplyDelete
  37. I love French salads - they are so simple yet full of flavour!
    x
    Melissah

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hello from France, Bordeaux, we love your recipes and pictures, have a nice day !

    ReplyDelete
  39. What a beautiful combination of salad & the dressing. Everything looks so perfect.
    Hope you're having a perfect day as well.
    Blessings
    Kristy

    ReplyDelete

I enjoy reading each and every comment. If you leave a comment with a question or that requires an answer, please leave an address or way for me to get in touch with you. I appreciate your taking the time to visit my blog and I hope you'll return again soon.
Sam