Monday, December 17, 2012

Deck the Halls with Salad Dressing

I made brownies last night. Henry and I are making Christmas cookies this afternoon. Next weekend, I'm baking two pies. At every turn, people are handing out sweets, and it's great fun, but I'm already a little burnt-out on sugary holiday treats, not to mention a bit compromised in the immune system, and my cells are craving vegetables. So although we don't usually eat a lot of salad in the winter, I've been making salad for dinner this week - salad with cooked green beans and olives, with roasted beets and goat cheese, with blanched cauliflower and homemade croutons, with potatoes, with tuna, with roasted pecans.

These salad meals gave me a chance to teach Henry how to make a few simple dressings. After all, a chef I know includes vinaigrette as one of the ten basics that every kid should learn. This also gave me a chance to teach Henry the word "emulsify." Such a great word.

Basic Vinaigrette

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced very finely
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
Optional: fresh or dried herbs (thyme is good) to taste

Combine vinegar, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until the salt is dissolved (takes less than a minute).

Add dijon mustard and whisk to combine.

Add olive oil in a steady stream and whisk until emulsified.

Add garlic and optional herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
2 jarred, roasted red peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon honey

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette is gorgeous and delicious. People freak out over it.

Creamy Garlic Dressing

1/4 cup mayonnaise or vegan substitute
1/4 cup greek yogurt or vegan substitute
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch pepper
2-4 cloves garlic, pressed or very finely minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, regular or vegetarian

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a bowl or blender. Whisk or blend to combine.
Add olive oil in slow steady stream and whisk or blend well.
Tastes even better a few hours after you make it.

(For a creamy green-goddess-ish dressing make creamy garlic dressing in the blender and add a small handful of parsley, spinach, basil, or a combination.)

Tahini Dressing (adapted from May All Be Fed by John Robbins)

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup tahini
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
2-4 tablespoons water
optional: pinch of cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients except water in a blender and blend until smooth. Add water until desired consistency is reached.
Tahini dressing is good on steamed vegetables, especially broccoli, as well as on grains or noodles.