I love me some salad.
I’m not afraid to admit that when I say “salad” I really mean “salad fixings.” I love the cheeses (french feta, gorgonzola, point reyes, shaved parm) that go great with it, I love the nuts (candied walnuts, toasted pine nuts and pecans) that pair perfectly with it, I love the sweet fruit (nectarines, pears) that balance out the flavors.
And, of course, I love the dressing. I used to be a fan of the bottled stuff–the Hidden Valleys and the Bernsteins. But I now use a much simpler dressing…one that will make your salad dressed for any event, be it to hold or garnish the main feature (chicken, steak, fish) or to stand strong on its own as the headliner. This dressing requires only four ingredients, and you should always have these four ingredients inside your kitchen.
Olive Oil (I LOVE Greek Olive Oil. You can find some great ones at Marshalls, of all places!)
Fresh Lemon Juice (remember, no bottled stuff. I’ll know if you’re using it…)
Salt (sea salt or Kosher. No table salt. You know how I feel about salt.)
Freshly Cracked Pepper
and that’s it. Those four components make the best-dressed salad. And you can add anything to a salad that’s dressed with this and the flavor won’t be off-putting or unbalanced. Promise! Here’s what I do:
If I remember or have the time, I like to chill my lettuce and get it super cold (put it in a stainless steal bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel and refrigerate anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours)
I pour the olive oil in a thin, but not too thin, line over the salad bowl in a zig-zag motion. First away from myself, then come back. Then I toss.
Next, I grind the salt and pepper on top. After using this “recipe”, if it can even be called that, you will learn how much salt/pepper you like. But for the first time, don’t over do it. Remember: you can always add more, but you can’t take away!
Then, I toss the salad again, then I add the lemon juice. The lemon is like the salt and pepper. Cut off about a third of a medium sized lemon and squeeze it on top of the greens, cut side up to avoid getting any seeds in there (ouch!) Toss again and you’re good to go! Of course, taste a piece of the greens and see if it needs anything–maybe you put too much lemon, or not enough salt, etc.
After you start eating your salad like this, I guarantee you won’t ever go back to ranch, italian, or God-forbid Thousand Island, dressing again! It’s cheaper, healthier, and um…BETTER. Another good thing to throw into the mix is to top off your perfectly-dressed salad with a splash or two of balsamic vinegar–you’ll be amazed at the difference a small amount of another ingredient will make your salad taste!
Next salad you make, swap out your dressing for this one and let me know what you think!