Sunday, October 08, 2006

Salad days

I always used to wonder how fancy restaurants managed to make their vinaigrette dressings so thick. Thanks to Alton Brown (as per usual) I've learned that the key is to add a little bit of dijon mustard to your vinegar and olive oil mixture. The dressing that we've been using lately is a combo of fig balsamic vinegar and raspberry dijon - the fancy mustard was too cool-sounding to resist. This recipe makes a nice, flavorful dressing that adheres to your lettuce instead of pooling in the bottom of your dish:

1/4 c. vinegar (red wine, balsamic, whatever)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 - 3/4 c. olive oil [I love love love vinegar, so I tend to add less olive oil. Ultimately the best balance will depend on the type of vinegar you use and how strong it is; I'd recommend starting with less oil, tasting, and then adding more if you feel the vinegar taste is too overpowering.]

Combine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and salt in a glass or metal container with a tight fitting lid (I use an old salad dressing bottle). Shake well to combine. Add olive oil and shake vigorously, until dressing emulsifies and thickens. Use right away - you can refrigerate the leftovers, but make sure to bring it to room temperature and shake again before serving.

As for the salad? These days I'm either going for a nice spring salad-in-a-bag, or a head of red leaf lettuce. Either one makes the perfect amount for two (pre-dinner) or a big lunch salad. Two heads of butter/Boston lettuce work well, also. I usually mix the salad with 2-3 Tbsp. of dressing, and then add a handful of chopped walnuts and dried cranberries. Sliced apples or pears are optional substitute for the cranberries; if you're feeling really fancy, you could throw in a bit of crumbled gorgonzola too.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Yum! I love homemade salad dressing!