Salad dressing is an area where homemade is usually far better than store bought. It is also so customizable and that allows your creativity and tastes to flourish. Plus, you can tweak the dressing to bring out the flavors of whatever is in your salad. I made a salad of romaine, green onions, a carrot, four or five celery sticks, a tomato and half of a large green pepper. I used probably half of a largish head of romaine. Cut the veggies in different shapes. I sliced the carrot on the diagonal and then in half to make half crescent moons (kind of ). Celery in rounds. Pepper in squares, tomato medium dice. The lettuce was strips. Toss the salad with dressing immediately before serving. Enjoy!
BALSAMIC MUSTARD VINAGRETTE
- 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 T. lemon juice
- 1/2 T. dijon mustard
- 1/2 T. mayo
- 1/2 T. honey
- 2/3 t. salt
- 1/3 t. black pepper
- 1/2 c. good quality olive oil
- 1/2 t. basil
I like some of the packaged salads for convenience- you rip open the bag, dump into a bowl, pour on the dressing and in two minutes lunch is ready. However, the variety of ingredients is not great and it is kind of expensive to pay that much for what in many cases is just chopped cabbage. So, I’ve switched to making our own and plan to pre-prep most of the ingredients in the future so I can just pick and choose. I’ve also taken to making almost all of our dressings. I put the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake at least 100 times. Shaking that much and using enough oil helps it to emulsify and really blend. It thickens a bit and I wind up using less. OK, here’s the winter salad mix:
- 1/4 medium head of cabbage, cleaned, cored and coarsely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 5 romaine leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 large radishes, sliced
- 2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 hot pepper, seeded and sliced
- 2 pepperoncini peppers sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1/4-1/3 cup roasted peanuts or almonds
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1/3 cup safflower oil
- 1/4 cup almond oil
- 1 T. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1-2 T. balsamic vinegar
- 1 T. rice vinegar
- 2 T. chopped ginger root
Mix all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve into serving bowls. Mix dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously at least one hundred times so that the ingredients blend and thicken. Use to taste on the salad. If you don’t have everything, sub other ingredients. Snowpeas are a delicious addition. Enjoy!
Sumac is a spice I’ve used for many years, but recently have become quite a fan. Sumac is a tart, purply red spice that adds tartness, much like lemon, and a beautiful color to food. It is made from the fruit of some types of the sumac plant, but I do not know which species so please don’t experiment on your own. It can be purchased online from a number of spice merchants and from many Middle Eastern markets.
Most recently, I tried a recipe using sumac in the mix for making kofte. It was terrific. It is also one of the key ingredients in making zaarter, a wonderful spice blend. I used that to make a marinade for grilled chicken thighs. There are several recipes online for that. There are also a number of recipes for zaarter online. The simplest calls for sumac, oregano (or thyme), salt and sesame seeds.
Sumac is indispensible in many Middle Eastern salads. A very simple salad consists of slicing an onion very thinly, sprinkling it with salt, letting it rest at least 15 minutes, then squeezing the onions well with your hands and rinsing off. Add to that finely chopped parsley and sumac and you have a delightful accompaniment to kofte or fish.