Summer time… wouldn’t a salad be nice?
As it gets hotter I know a lot of people like to eat lighter, and salads are a great way to do that. I’m actually not going to talk about salads so much as the dressing for your salad. For those of us on a gluten-free diet salad dressing can be a dangerous area. Commercial dressings can include any number of emulsifiers, stabilizers, and other stuff. Why? Well, I can only assume that most of that helps it sit out at room temperature for weeks or months until you buy it. Do you need it? No. Can you make a better salad dressing yourself, for less money? Absolutely!
The most basic kind of dressing you can easily make is a vinaigrette. Basically you need two things, an acid and an oil. Specifically, vinegar and oil. That is it. One part vinegar, and three parts oil. Obviously, this leaves you quite a bit of wiggle room! Want something Italian? Balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar and some extra virgin olive oil. Spanish? Sherry vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. Asian? Rice vinegar, and a blend of oils, maybe sesame and peanut or canola? (In this case you’ll want the more neutral canola oil to be the greater quantity.) Now, you can play around with things from here, and get more interesting flavors. You can also use things that will act as emulsifiers. This will keep your dressing from separating back into oil and vinegar. Many of these are also flavorful, mustard, garlic(roasted and pureed), honey and eggs to name a few that are probably in your cabinets right now.
Rather than talk about dressings I made while I was at work I thought I would talk about one I made at home. Amy was over, and she was cooking dinner for us! But we both agreed that a salad would be nice too. I have a bottle of very nice sherry vinegar, and although I don’t use it a lot, it does taste great! I also was given a bottle of smoked rapeseed(canola to the North Americans reading) oil as a gift that I thought would be nice to try out with the sherry vinegar.
What you need:
Food processor or blender
Some of this is measured, and some of this is just eyeballed, so feel free to make it up as you go, and adjust things.
1 tsp ground mustard (the dry kind)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup smoked rapeseed oil
1/4 cup canola oil
herbes de provence
salt and pepper to taste
honey to taste
I have a small food processor, and it works great for salad dressings, salsas, and anything I feel like putting in there.
Cut the onion half so it will fit in the processor, chop it finely, add the garlic. Next I put in the dry mustard, and the vinegar. Then with the processor running slowly add the oils. If you notice, I am not using the 1:3 ratio I talked about at the beginning. It works just as well with 1:2, and you end up with a lower fat dressing! Next, season with the herbes de provence, honey, and salt and pepper. Since it is in the food processor use it to mix in the seasonings. How does it taste? It should be bright, garlicy, slightly smoky, and a little sweet.
You’ve now made your first vinaigrette. Easy, wasn’t it? I made a salad with some baby greens, fresh raspberries, blueberries, and some really nice sharp cheddar, and this dressing.
Feel free to experiment. The options are pretty much only limited by your imagination! And they taste great too!