Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Confession of a Salad Maker

The other day I realized that I buy one salad dressing and one salad dressing only. It is the Newman's Vinaigrette. It is pretty good but I always think to myself I should make my own dressing. There is just no comparison to a freshly dressed salad. The fresh herbs and ingredients gently tossed with the greens have your mouth watering before any food touches your lip.

I hate to admit it but I have thought about making my own dressings for years. I have dabbled here and there but I have never weaned myself completely off the store bought brands. I started my effort to try making different dressing varieties to find which one will become my own stand by. My thought is this: I will try many recipes, experiment with different ingredients and hopefully find one that I make part of my everyday salad life.

I confess (and find it pathetic) that I even thought of myself as a good salad maker. After all of these years of cooking, how can I claim this if I have yet to make my own dressing?!

I have started working on trying different dressing recipes. The first one I have been experimenting with is a cilantro and lime dressing. I wanted a chunkier, "thicker" dressing that I could use on a tomato and avocado salad. Sometimes I don't want a huge salad. I like to cut a few vegetables up I have on hand and toss them with a dressing. Avocados, tomatoes and purple onion seem to be one of my favorite "throw it together" combinations. So here it is:

Sliced Avocado and Cherry Tomatoes with a Cilantro,
Caper and Lime Dressing

1 Clove Garlic, Chopped
1 1/2 Teaspoons Whole Grain Mustard
1 Lime (grated rind and juice)
1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
4 Tablespoons olive Oil (extra virgin)
1 Teaspoon Capers
3 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
1 Large Avocado, Sliced
6-8 Large Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced
1 Small Purple Onion, Sliced

Place the chopped garlic, mustard, lime rind, lime juice and vinegar in a bowl. Combine the ingredients together with a large spoon. Whisk in the oil. Add in the capers and cilantro. Season with black pepper to taste. Toss in the sliced avocado, diced tomatoes and the sliced onion. It makes about two dinner servings. If you are using this salad as a side to another dish it may serve four. I like to eat this salad with a slice of crusty bread or a whole wheat cracker.