Sunday, January 1, 2012

Salad Dressing

I didn’t have to think long about what recipe should begin this new year. Many of us will have enjoyed holiday food of all kinds over the past few weeks and are now ready to settle back in to a life of slightly less excess for a while. I said "slightly". As Oscar Wilde said, "Everything in moderation, including moderation".

Whether as the beginning or end of a feast, or as the main event itself, salads are beautiful, delicious, and full of good things for you. They can be simple as a few leaves of lettuce, or as fulsome as a salade nicoise. As fresh as a gathering of just picked herbs, or as savoury as a melange of roasted root vegetables. What brings it all together...the dressing itself.

I have never understood why people buy bottled dressings. But shelf upon shelf in the grocery store attests to the fact that they do. I’m often told how good my dressings are, but rather than run off into production and add another choice to the already vast array, I’m just going to encourage you to make 2012 the year you make your own.

My guess is that you already have everything you need.
Make it in a small dish, shake it up in a little jar, or do as I often do, and prepare it right in the bottom of the salad bowl. Infinitely changeable there are just three basic ingredients – oil, vinegar, and a little mustard.

1 tablespoon, or as I would say, “a dollop” of mustard – dijon is lovely, but so are many others
2 tablespoons or so of acidity – red or white wine vinegars, balsamic, lemon juice or a combination
5 tablespoons of oil – olive oil is the standby
And a good grind of salt and pepper

Combine mustard and vinegar, and then slowly drizzle in the oil. You can stir it, shake it, use an immersion blender, whatever you like – I prefer a whisk. A few quick strokes and there it is golden and delicious, just begging you to stick your finger in for a quick taste – which I highly recommend. This is when you’ll know. You’ll know that you love it just as it is. Or you’ll think that tonight I might like a touch of sweetness, so you'll add a sprinkle of sugar or a teaspoon of honey. Perhaps you’ll crave a little crushed garlic, some chopped herbs, sundried tomatoes or olives, a grating of parmesan or a crumbling of roquefort...the possibilities are endless.

When family and friends say "this salad dressing is so good". You will smile and say "I made it".

Bon appetit!

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