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Saturday, 23 November 2013

Blackberry and black pepper vinaigrette

Picking blackberries off brambles is one of the best things about the end of the summer. My family always try to pick as many as possible, and keep them in the freezer for berry treats throughout the winter.

This vinaigrette is a perfect vehicle for frozen berries. Freezing seems to sweeten them, and they are so soft once defrosted that you don’t need to cook them down at all.

This quantity makes enough for one massive salad, or a few smaller ones.

1 cup frozen blackberries (or use fresh if available)
1 tsp grain mustard
1 tsp honey (or agave nectar, or maple syrup)
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper

Defrost the blackberries and mash them with a fork. If they are still too lumpy you can use a hand-blender to wiz them up, but it shouldn’t be necessary. A lot of other recipes blend the dressing, giving a uniform purple sauce. I quite like keeping things a bit more rustic though – my way the colour stays darker, and the odd escaped lump of blackberry is always welcome.

Mix the blackberry mush with the mustard, honey, garlic, oil and vinegar. Taste and season with a little salt and a lot of black pepper.

I suppose you could add a bit of fresh tarragon or fresh mint to make it a bit more complex and grown-up if you wanted to.

I used this dressing on a salad of spinach, red onions, puy lentils, goats cheese and pistachios, and it was really good.

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