Posts tagged ‘dressings’
Does blue cheese dressing merit its own post? Like, without an accompanying salad recipe? I wouldn’t have believed it but I’ve gotta say…yes, yes it does.
Rather at the last minute, we decided we needed some coleslaw on the fourth of July (to go with our pulled pork). I didn’t have a go-to recipe at the time, so it was back to the internet research table for me. And here’s the thing I’ve realized about slaws– you can pretty much make a slaw with anything you want, as long as you start with a good base for the dressing.
You want a standard slaw? Creamy dressing + red/green cabbage + carrots. A slightly less traditional coleslaw? Try adding some julienned jicama or celeriac, or finely sliced sugar snap peas or bell peppers. Like onions? I like to julienne red onions and chop green onions, so you could choose one of those, or use sweet or yellow onions. You want some kick? Throw in a minced jalapeno or some horseradish. Something sweet? Use honey mustard, or add sliced or julienned apples. Something unexpected? Throw in some bleu cheese crumbles. Want to go asian with it? Quick edit the dressing by subbing oil for the mayo, rice vinegar for the cider vinegar, soy for the mustard, then add a splash of sesame oil and you’re golden. And of course you could use savoy or napa cabbage instead of or in addition to regular cabbage. See? Choose your own adventure, as long as you have the dressing blueprint to bring it together.
We eat a lot of salads around here, but every time we make one for dinner I have to fight the part of me that thinks its kind of a cop-out of a meal. I mean, I totally love salads, but I kind of feel like it doesn’t count as cooking unless there is some kind of twist or extra component that beefs it up to entree level, like shiitakes and bacon, chicken and asparagus, or a really great homemade dressing. Plus, if we don’t toss is some tasty bonus ingredients, we always end up needing an after dinner snack an hour after dinner.
We’ve had a whole lot of lettuce and greens laying around for the past week, but with the hubbub of the last couple of weeks of school I really haven’t felt like cooking at all. Like, not even a bare-bones, lettuce and bottled dressing salad to go with our take-out pizza. But finally, with greens amundo getting wasted in the fridge, I decided I really had to make a salad, so we went all out and make an add-ins heavy classic, the cobb salad, with a couple of delicious twists.
A few weeks ago when spring was just around the corner, we went on an entree salad kick so severe that I could not keep up with blogging all the ones we tried; if I had, you the blog-readers would probably have written this off as a rabbit food blog and gone elsewhere! I posted our best-of-the-best, but then in an effort to space out my salad ramblings I waited on some others, and now suddenly its weeks later and I’ve all but moved on, except that I can’t get this one out of my mind! It arose from a desire to do something new with the beloved pea shoots, and made use of some beautiful local shiitakes we had picked up, and while I’m not sure the salad was meaty enough to make a meal all-in-itself, I will definitely be making this again as a fresh, jazzed-up accompaniment to a light meal.
I dunno about you guys, but even in a seemingly endless stretch of rainy days I’m starting to feel spring setting in. I can’t entirely put my finger on it, but all I know is that for me, the time for slow cookers and soups and roasts is passed, and all I really crave are GREEN THINGS. Asparagus. Peas. Spinach. And let’s not forget the aforementioned delicious pea shoots. I can’t get enough, even though the farmer’s market hasn’t quite started up yet and the grocery stores are still a bit spotty in this early spring time with the price and quality of spring veggies.
As I wait for the markets to catch up with my veg cravings, I’ve found myself drawn to main dish salads as a way to ease into spring. They make heavy use of easy-to-access greens like spinach, pea shoots, and other lettuces, but can be bejeweled and adorned with any number of delicious additions in smaller quantities, which is easy on my pocketbook and makes “cooking” dinner a simple matter of chopping and or cooking just a few lovely supplements and then tossing them in with the more salady bits. This latest salad, a loose adaptation of something I saw in Sunset magazine this month, takes a hefty dose of spinach and supplements it with smaller quantities of fresh asparagus, chicken, feta, tomatoes, a tangy lemon vinaigrette, and the best part: homemade pita croutons!
Here it is folks, a double kitchen first! Two new greens in one salad. We tried pea shoots and watercress for the first time this week and I’ve never had a salad that looked so much like eating the contents of my lawn mower. But I’ve also never had a salad shock me so much with its tastiness! This is definitely my new go-to salad. I cannot wait to make it again; like, we will probably go get more watercress and pea shoots tomorrow.
kitchen firsts: dandelion greens (in a salad with prosciutto, bleu cheese and candied walnuts with white wine vinaigrette)
Dandelion greens?? Are these not the same greens that tormented me as a child, always sprouting back up two days after my painstaking efforts to rid the lawn of the little buggers? My dad used to pay me a nickel for every dandelion I pulled from the grass, but despite the bribery I never associated them with a good honest days’ pay, but instead with torturous, never-ending chores, the bane of my young existence.
And yet, dandelion greens seem to be enjoying a vegetable renaissance in recent times, maybe because of the foodie cred involved in finding under-appreciated produce and claiming that you’ve unlocked its secret deliciousness. Or perhaps I just was not tuned into the food world enough before to notice that they were being eaten. Or, (secret option #3) could the dandelions’ recent popularity be due, actually, to some real culinary merit?
I have to admit that the previous me would’ve been entirely skeptical about the idea of using dandelions as the main green in a salad, but I recently encountered them a few times in the form of an appetizer made by a friend and was pleasantly surprised. The appetizer had bleu cheese, nuts, and a dandelion green or two rolled up in prosciutto, and I found the greens really tasty in that context, so I thought I’d turn those same flavors around, make the greens the focus, and amp it up to a main course salad.