Thursday, April 16, 2009

Best Everyday Dressing, 2 ways

A Big Salad, a.k.a using up Easter Eggs

The love of a salad compose (basically Seinfeld's Big Salad) is one of the gifts my trips to France gave me - tender greens, a simple vinaigrette, an egg in some form, always bacon (or lardons when I find/make them), cubes of Gruyere when I'm feeling flush, and whatever else I can get my hands on (tomatoes, asparagus tips, green beans, artichoke hearts, avocado, and on). I don't eat many vegetables and I really don't eat salad. It's usually a waste of calories (almost no nutritional value and little taste), but great ingredients and this dressing make it a worthy dinner (especially in the Summer or when you need to use up some Easter eggs).
This dressing made the lemon way is my favorite for Caesar salad or marinating chicken for the grill. If you do the vinegar option you can just keep blending and it will thicken into a spread (almost) that's great on toasted bread. This is my Mom's famous "Mom Dressing" that everyone loves above all other dressings. When she used to make it I'd save a piece of bread so I could clean my plate completely (I've also been known just to lick it).

Best Everyday Dressing, 2 Ways

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon) OR red wine vinegar
2 - 4 cloves of garlic, chopped (I use all 4, but I like my dressing garlicky)
1 T mustard (pretty much anything but yellow)
S & P to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

  • In a smallish glass measuring cup (I use a weird 3-cupper I have, but a 2 will work fine) combine all the ingredients except the oil. I give this a little stir with the spoon I used for the mustard to let the acid start eating up the other stuff. If you add the garlic, etc... to the oil it will all be coated in oil and won't blend as well (maybe it's all in my mind, but this order just seems to make a better dressing).
  • Now add an equal amount of olive oil - a little over 1/4 cup - and blend it with a hand blender* in short bursts until it's the consistency you like. I know most recipes say to stream in the olive oil, but I don't find that to be true unless eggs are involved.
  • Now taste it. I like a very acidic dressing, so I'm usually done here (except for adjusting the S & P), but now's the time to add more oil if you like a mellower dressing.
*If you use a food processor just check the consistency a little more often, but even a dressing that almost gets turned into mayonnaise will still be great - call it Creamy Italian! You can even shake it in a jar, but then you have to mince the garlic and it doesn't get as thick as I like it.
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