Dress that Salad

 

The salad days are here. The garden is young, green and hopeful. Our salad bed is quite jubilant. We’ve been harvesting our dinner salad almost everyday. Though I rarely get tired of freshly plucked greens, it helps to have an extensive salad dressing repertoire to ward off potential boredom.

I usually quickly whip up a salad dressing fresh for each salad. Most of the recipes listed are just enough to dress a salad for four. A couple of the recipes will make enough extra to keep on hand.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
Everyone should have a solid vinaigrette recipe in his or her arsenal. This is a nice one from my friend Dori. You can substitute other herbs for the thyme. Rosemary and basil both make excellent substitutions.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves
1 – 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Squeeze of fresh lemon (about 1/2 tablespoon)
Fresh thyme – 3 fresh sprigs, stripped (or 1/2 palm dried)
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method:
Place all ingredients it in a mini-prep or blender. Blend until it creates a nice emulsion and let sit for at least 1 hour.

Makes enough for several salads. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.

Simple Lemon Dressing
I’m particularly excited about our arugula crop. The peppery leaf is by far my favorite salad green. To dress it, I like to keep it very simple, allowing the flavor of the leaf to shine through.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons sugar or honey
Salt/pepper to taste.

Method
Mix all ingredients well and toss with salad.

Yogurt Blue Cheese Dressing
This is a good one to make on the fly. It’s a nice creamy change from the vinaigrettes we usually have.

Ingredients
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Dash or two of cayenne pepper
Salt, pepper to taste.

Method
-Mash the blue cheese with a fork. Mix all ingredients until the consistency is creamy. Toss with salad.

Lemon Vinaigrette
My friend Jan made this one day last summer. We are both from Virginia but now she lives in California and I live in New York. We met at Bonnie and Earl’s farm in Wake, Virginia. I’m not sure if it was the idyllic setting or the toasted cumin that made this dressing so delightful.

This goes traditionally on a Fattoush salad but toss it with any fresh greens and vegetables, throw in some feta cheese and you have a winner.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (about 1-2 cloves)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
5 ounces extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method
-Toast cumin in heavy small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. You can toast the ground cumin, or toast whole cumin seeds and then grind them.
– Whisk the remaining ingredients together and toss in salad.

Lemon Tahini Dressing
I love this simple dressing on a spinach salad tossed with chic peas.

Ingredients
2 tablespoon Tahini
2-3 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 tablespoon water
Salt/pepper to taste

Method
-Mix all ingredients well and toss with salad.

Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette
My friend Sydney first made this vinaigrette for me a couple years ago. I was hooked at first bite. Luckily she gave me a bottle of it and the recipe so I could eat it to my hearts content. This dressing is great tossed with mixed field greens, thinly sliced red onions, walnuts and goat cheese.

Ingredients
1- 15 oz can pear halves in natural juice, undrained
1/3 c. white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash ground red pepper

Method
-Drain pears, reserving 1/3 cup juice
-Combine pears, juice, vinegar, and remaining ingredients in a blender, process until smooth
-Makes two cups and will keep for a couple months refrigerated.