It’s almost May, well almost and that means the season begins for one of my favourite salad vegetables, whole head British lettuce. Cos at its absolute best is a winner, those long crisp, crunchy leaves are fabulous in any Caesar salad (without the anchovies for me) whilst shredded Iceberg is perfect between two fresh slices of bread and a row of just-grilled fish fingers, slathered in rapeseed mayonnaise. I have a great recipe for a risotto whose main ingredient is Butterhead lettuce but there’s nothing better than a bowl of freshly picked inner leaves with a decent French dressing.
If the weather’s been good, salad growers will be planting the seedlings ready for an early harvest in April. The British Leafy Salads Association tell me that most grown British lettuce is on track to be ready on time, in spite of the recent weather we’ve had, and so you can expect to see it emerging on the shelves from mid to late April.
I was offered some of Lucy’s Dressings to try ‘Zesty Mayo’, ‘Blushing Beetroot’, ‘Classic Balsamic’ and ‘Great Golden’ but there are more in the range including ‘French Bliss’, ‘Light Asian’, ‘Honey and Mustard’ and ‘Lemon and Caper’.
I was waiting for crisp British lettuce to try the Classic Balsamic but buckled and bought a packet of pre-packed leaves from France. The dressing was fabulous and as good as any I’d try to knock up if I had the time and if I could be bothered. It’s made with quality products, which you can immediately taste and includes extra virgin olive oil, Modena balsamic vinegar and mustard. There’s a touch of lemon juice in there too along with some honey. It’s got a good consistency and tastes both sharp and sweet. All the dressings are in 250ml bottles.
The dressings were conceived in Lucy’s busy family kitchen using recipes she’d conjured up. The key here is that she hand-picks the finest quality ingredients. Testament to taste, Lucy’s Dressings have won five Great Taste Awards.
The Blushing Beetroot has a kick of horseradish along with balsamic and Dijon mustard again playing on the sweet and sharp aspects of taste I found this in a little creme fraiche was the perfect accompaniment for raw vegetables. This with goat’s cheese would be absolutely fabulous along with feta but mix it up with cooked, cold potatoes for an interesting potato salad.
Rapeseed oil, cider vinegar, honey and Dijon mustard makes up the Golden Great dressing. A beautiful gold colour provided by the award-winning Hillfarm rapeseed oil this is fabulous drizzled over root vegetables and of course helps to liven up any salad leaves. This was one of my favourites and worked really well on frisee and radicchio, in fact any bitter leaves.
The Zesty Mayo has been an award-winner since 2010 when the Great Taste Judges gave it a gold one star, last year it took overall gold. This creamy dressing was great tossed with some poached salmon fillets, mixed grains and steamed soya beans.
Sure. Dressings are a cinch to make but it’s all about time and the exact balance of flavours. If you want a go-to dressing in the fridge for any time you want to whip up a concoction then Lucy’s is where I’m at.