Summer salad season is here and I’m pretty excited! I get equally jazzed up about fall, winter and spring salad seasons, but there’s something extra special about bountiful fresh, local summer produce.
But even the most tender lettuce leaves, crunchiest cukes, and ripest tomatoes will benefit from a little dollop of dressing to tie it all together. I don’t always take the time for homemade dressing, but when I do put in the effort the entire salad experience gets elevated by a notch or two.
We hosted a dinner party under the stars this past weekend – look for an upcoming post on the spicy grilled salmon with melted tomatoes and jalapenos, muy caliente and muy delicioso! But the dish that everyone loved to distraction was a cold green bean salad with Garlic-Basil Dressing. So simple, but that zesty dressing was damn delicious and would be just as tasty tossed into a green salad, or drizzled over warm potatoes, or a plate of sliced heirloom tomatoes. This just became my Official Salad Dressing of Summer 2016. Yup.
Click the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
A quick peek in the blog archives testifies to my love for salads. Here are a few great ones:
- Cracker Jack Salad
- Farmer’s Market Salad
- Brussels Sprout Salad with Kale, Cranberries & Toasted Hazelnuts
Check out these photos – click to enlarge them and read the captions – and then get the salad dressing recipes below.
Recipe source: RVA News
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 shallot
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or a little less)
- 3/4 cup canola, corn or other vegetable oil
- 15 fresh basil leaves
- Turn on the food processor with the steel knife and drop the garlic and shallot down the feed tube onto the spinning blade to mince.
- Add the vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and sugar.
- With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil.
- Add the basil leaves and coarsely chop with several on/off pulses.
- Scrape down the inside of the food processor bowl, then close the lid and give it a few more pulses.
- All done. Dressing will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.
Recipe source: Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook via Epicurious
This is a basic vinaigrette, pared down to the essentials, three parts oil, one part acid—no shallots, no salt and pepper. The mustard adds flavor and strengthens the emulsion. Additional ingredients may be added to it, depending on how it's to be used. Most often it's used to dress greens that have been seasoned with salt and tossed with fresh herbs.
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil
- Combine the mustard and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 15 seconds. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the oil. Don't be tempted to add all the oil to the blender or the vinaigrette will become too thick. It should be very creamy.
- Transfer the vinaigrette to a small bowl and, whisking constantly, slowly stream in the remaining 1 cup oil. (The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Should the vinaigrette separate, use a blender or immersion blender to re-emulsify it.)