Here is a recipe for a great-tasting homemade Balsamic Vinegar dressing!
Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
- 1/3 cup vinegar
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon marjoram
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon shallot, minced (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Put all ingredients in a small bowl. Combine by whisking or using an emulsion blender.
TIP: Chef Scott suggests soaking the shallot in vinegar to take the bite out before mincing it.
If you are looking for a quick and easy salad dressing that you can make at home, this Green Herb Dressing should fit the bill:
Green Herb Dressing
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- up to 1/3 cup water
- 1 green onion, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon parsley
Put everything into a container and blend with an emulsion blender. Take note that the Rosemary will keep it’s shape when all is said and done.
Freshly made salad dressings can enhance any salad green. The trick is to produce a dressing that is light without masking the subtle flavors of the salad. A splash of olive oil or balsamic vinegar often is all that is needed.
For those who can’t bear their salad greens naked, we recommend good olive oil, either extra virgin - or the new - lighter-tasting varieties. Either white vinegar or cider vinegar can be used in many salad dressing recipes.
Chef Scott’s tip: For any salad dressing, always whisk the oil into the vinegar either before adding the other ingredients or afterwards. This will keep the oil from “breaking” or separating from the dressing. But if you are dressing the salad before plating and will not be serving the dressing on the side, you can just mix and pour. Whisking the oil into the dressing, however, is a good habit to get into.
The Salad Chef is ideal for the extreme home gourmet cook. You create your salad dressing mixture in the glass carafe, which has pre-marked lines for oils and vinegars. Then, you insert the mini battery-powered emulsifing blender (what Emeril often calls a “Boat Motor”) into the carafe and blend away. The Salad Chef comes with an instruction booklet and fill-line charts so you don’t even have to measure
The Gourmet Oil Mister is a sleek stainless steel container that can be filled with oil or even a thin salad dressing. You pump the can to build up the pressure and then spray onto your salad. You can also use it to spray pans or directly onto meats, fish, or veggies. Many of the commercial oil sprays have additives (usually alcohol) to atomize the oil. Pump sprays are an alternative, but even then you can’t always get your favorite brand of olive oil or other vegetable oil in them. This way, you can use your favorite oils and not add something non-food related to your meal.
The subtle flavors of delicate mixed greens should not be masked by heavy dressings, like cream and highly-spiced ones. A splash of olive oil or balsamic vinegar can often be all that is needed. French vinaigrette, a light dressing made with cider vinegar or lemon juice, oil, salt, and a pinch of dried mustard, is the perfect mate for delicate greens. If you are calorie-conscious, make your vinaigrette with the following formula: 1 part lemon juice or vinegar, 1 part oil, 2 parts water, salt, and dried mustard. You can add garlic and/or light herbs like dill or thyme.
While we are in the middle of salad week, don’t think we forgot about all those tasty salads that have nothing to do with lettuce. In fact, here is a recipe for Italian Tomato Cheese Salad - perfect for use an an hors d’oeuvre or first course:
Italian Tomato Cheese Salad
- 2-3 tomatoes, sliced thinly
- 6-8 ounces cheese (mozzarella, baby Swiss, or havarti), sliced thinly
- olive oil
- salt (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil, minced
Slice the cheese to the size of each tomato slice. Place the tomato and cheese slices in three rows down a plate, alternating tomato and cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and salt lightly if desired. Sprinkle minced basil over the salad. The dish may be chilled or served at room temperature.
Wash garden lettuces or other salad greens well, but do not let them soak in water. This can soften the leaves and cause them to spoil quicker. Dry the greens thoroughly, either by blotting with paper towels or with a salad spinner.
They can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, but put a damp paper towel into the bag before closing. Otherwise, place a paper towel in the bottom of a plastic container. Put in the salad greens, then place a damp paper towel over the lettuce. Cover with an airtight lid.
Watercress can be stored by sticking the stems in a glass of water and placing a plastic bag over the leaves. Wild greens should be used immediately. Lettuce will last 3-5 days depending on the variety. Romaine will keep longer. Tear or cut lettuces and greens before adding them to salads. Cut strong-tasting wild greens into smaller pieces than you would for lettuces to distribute their flavors.
Many of the greens found in the wild have become legitimized by the popularity of mesclun mixes and intentionally cultivated. Mesclun, comes from a French word meaning “mixture.” Originating in Provence, France, mesclun traditionally was a blend of chervil, arugula, lettuce, and endive. These were usually grown together and harvested when only a few inches high.
Mesclun in America is much more varied. Not only are the blends packed with eight to sixteen different kinds of greens, but they are also geared for different tastes. Some are quite mild and contain much more lettuce. Peppery mescluns can have cresses, chicory, arugula, and mustards mixed with regular leaf lettuce. Many of the greens in these salad blends are: lettuces, endives, mustards, purslane, cresses, escarole, arugula, chard, and spinach. Exotic greens like mizuna from Japan or tat-soi from China are popular, too. Some mescluns even have herbs, like parsleys and fennels, and edible flowers.
The Salad Blaster is a way to transport your salad and your dressing without mingling the two until the precise moment. The lid of the Salad Blaster stores the dressing and the spacious container holds the greens. When you get to your picnic, pour the dressing into the salad. Put on the lid and shake. Individual plastic storage container to fit round veggies like bell peppers and onions are handy to have. They are great for storing half used vegetables. There’s a little hook on the edge of the container so you can hang the container on the front of a shelf in the fridge. That way your partially used veggie won’t get lost in the fridge.
Most wild salad greens are just pesky weeds to most people. Yet, many upscale supermarkets carry wild greens, and fine dining establishments use dandelion greens, a variety of watercresses, lambs quarters, and even French purslane in their creations. These weeds are really nutritious and very tasty. Wash them well, and chop or tear them into very small pieces to distribute their unique flavors. Use singly in a salad or mix them with other wild greens and domestic lettuces. Dress lightly so you don’t mask their flavors. Besides eating them raw, these greens can be wilted or steamed and served with a vinaigrette dressing or a splash of balsamic vinegar.
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