Fleur de Sel de Camargue
You may be wondering what exactly fleur de sel de Camargue means, and why it's a secret weapon. Well I'm glad you asked. First of all, fleur de sel (literally translated "flower of the salt") is a top-quality sea salt that is hand-raked and harvested in France. Specifically, this sea salt comes from the Camargue, a wild, marshy area in the southwest corner of France known for its rice, its horses, and–you guessed it–sea salt. Fleur de sel's coarse granules are incredibly flavorful and have a way of drawing out the flavor in any food, from roasted fish to grilled veggies or even a simple salad. I love sprinkling it over a ripe tomato or a juicy piece of cantaloupe, in olive oil (for dipping bread), or even in chocolate chip cookie batter. I'm obsessed.
Though this highly prized sea salt is intended as a "finishing salt" (i.e. used just to sprinkle on foods before serving), I use it all the time in cooking. I love its intense flavor and coarse texture, especially in a dish like roast chicken, where it's nice to have the crunchy salt granules baked into the skin. I stock up on fleur de sel whenever I'm in France–it's really inexpensive at any local grocery story there–or you can order it online at SaltWorks for $8.99. A little bit goes a long way, so a 4.4 ounce container should last you awhile. When I'm cooking, I like to put some fleur de sel in a little bowl so I can just sprinkle it into dishes as I go.
I know salt gets a bad rap these days, but all-natural sea salt actually has some important health benefits. Packed with minerals and micro-nutrients, sea salt (unlike refined table salt) actually helps your body absorb nutrients and can aid your body in regulating blood pressure. Eliminating all salt from your diet could actually have a negative effect on your body (not to mention your taste buds!). Of course, everything in moderation, but a little sea salt is far better for you than refined table salt.
So why is it a secret weapon? Because it honestly makes everything taste better! I used this salt in every single dish last night (roast chicken, roast potatoes, salad) and with little effort on my part, the flavors were fantastic. Without any further ado, I want to leave you with the a recipe for an easy Dijon vinaigrette that's delicious on salad greens, steamed green beans, or drizzled over leftover roast chicken or pork. This is a perfect example of a simple recipe that tastes oh-so-much-better with a little sprinkling of fleur de sel...try it for yourself and see!
Makes about 1/2 cup
1/2 medium shallot, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper
Whisk together the shallot, mustard, and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to combine. Season with a good sprinkle of fleur de sel and some freshly ground pepper.
You can store the remaining vinaigrette in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.