My sauce for the summer is this one: Basil Vinaigrette. Don’t get me wrong, I love pesto. But this basil-forward sauce has the punchy flavor of fresh herbs but takes less than a minute to blend together. And unlike its thicker cousin, this vinaigrette can be drizzled over everything, from fresh tomatoes and shelling beans, to risotto or roasted potatoes, and even fresh cheese, like burrata.
As soon as I see them, I start hoarding bunches of basil and fresh tomatoes at the market, never letting my supply run low. And keeping a container of this vinaigrette on hand means I can have lunch or dinner on the table quickly. But it also is a great sauce to bring along on a picnic, which we did the other night, enjoying the tranquility of Paris while most of the city clears out until the end of summer. (Although the next door neighbors, who had a wild party that lasted until 4:30am, didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to leave. Romain reminded them the next morning…in no uncertain terms.)
I am a big fan of fresh shelling beans, which come in pods and need to be shucked. It’s a bit of a task, but the rewards are well worth it. I do remember going to a dinner in Paris and about half the guests left most of the fresh shelling beans that had been so laboriously prepared, on their plates, which get cleared away after the meal was over. It was painful to see.
For our picnic, I packed some sliced tomatoes and shelling beans, and picked up a package of burrata cheese at the fromagerie, and served those with spoonfuls of the basil vinaigrette over the top.
I think there’s just a few weeks left for fresh basil, so I’m going to try to make this sauce as much as possible, until it runs out. But I know when it’s gone, next summer, I’ll have the perfect sauce recipe ready to go, that I can make in minutes.