Hello, Spring! Well, in California it’s Spring. I know many of you are still shoveling your cars out from under snow and I offer you my sympathies. I hold to the idea that when the crocuses and the daffodils finally push their valiant heads through the warming soil, the shock of joy you feel in your chests will be worth the wait. I swear, the earth is still spinning and the new harvest is on its way.
So my offering to you this Spring is the hope that you will NEVER BUY SALAD DRESSING AGAIN. This will save you money, which is nice, but also it will contribute to your health even more than you know. When we finally integrate the practice of fresh salads into our lives, incorporating more vegetables into our diets that way most health care professionals ask us to, often we then dump a bunch of bottled dressings onto them that are kind of like a bully’s kick to the newly found courage of the skinny kid on the playground. Name brand shelf-stable dressings are packed with crappy quality oils, preservatives, MSG and all manner of shit that has nothing at all to do with the goodness of eating food some nice farmer took the time to grow. Here: let’s take a look at what the Wish Bone people like to call “Italian Dressing”. Suffice to say, if I was Italian, I would be deeply offended by this kind of representation.
It’s hilarious to me that they are waving the Gluten-Free flag but really, I love the part where they say “CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (USED TO PROTECT QUALITY). What they may have meant to say goes something more like, “We like to call this Calcium Disodium EDTA because it sounds like it might mean salt. But really it’s short for Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, which is actually made from formaldehyde, sodium cayanide, and Ethylenediamine.” And that, my dear friends, is how corporations like to phrase Quality Control. I won’t get started on the maltodextrin because I’d rather get to the part where we make delicious things.
The first exciting thing is to share with you what readers are making! Let’s start with my friend Becky who is basically the hottest eyeliner butch in Los Angeles. She makes crazy art sets for things and obviously, she makes dressing. Becky says, ” I like a little twist on the typical balsamic for warmer weather, adjust for taste, of course:
2 parts WHITE balsamic
1 part grape seed oil
1/2t spicy brown mustard per serving.
The white balsamic/grape seed substitution really lightens up the flavor and tang” One of the great lessons Becky gives us here is that dressings can be made with general guidelines. Here she has a 2:1 ratio for vinegar to oil. Now our friend Alice Waters, the goddess who often watches over my kitchen experiments, always goes with a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. Does this make her right? Nope. It means that from Becky to Alice, people like their salads all kinds of ways. And you can too.
By now you know that one of my favorite food blogs is Laura Silverman’s Glutton for Life. I love it over there. She offers us a dressing of the ocean with anchovy paste. While you vegans and vegetarians may want to stay away, I say NO NO NO! Just substitute salted capers for the paste and you’ll still have that feeling of the sea. She mixes up anchovy paste, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard powder, chile oil, sea salt and garlic. Why are there no measurements? Because you, my friend, get to try them all out. You’ll notice she doesn’t use vinegar here and the lemon juice flies the sour flag for this recipe. Go easy on the chile oil as you experiment as a little bit goes a long ass way. This is a robust bangin’ dressing that will be able to handle dark spicy greens as well as steer the ship with lighter lettuces. I also think the color of some sliced radishes would be fantastic to highlight the contrast of flavors here. Don’t be afraid to cook by color. I have been known to assemble salads to go with the table linens. And it’s always just lovely.
What about when we are looking for a more eastern flavor, something from a Japanese kind of note? Well, one of my fantastic new clients sent me this one:
Miso Lime Dressing:
1/4 c white miso (you can use chickpea if soy is your nemesis)
1/4 c oil of choice
1/4 c water
2 T unsweetened rice vinegar
1 T honey (optional)
juice & zest of one lime
Blend in blender and keep refrigerated.
For me this recipe kicks some serious ass. Plus you can use it on a rice bowl as well. I would have at least 1T of toasted sesame oil as part of my 1/4 c and combine it with maybe a walnut, but that’s just me.
Up in the capital of the beautiful state of Washington, Olympia, food really does it’s thing. It’s not just where my Riot Grrrl youth sprang from. Although I’ve never lived in Olympia, in the shadow of the gorgeous Mt. Ranier, I’ve spent many a fine week entrenched in its never ending DIY spirit. Aside from getting my toes tattooed there (they say Lucky Devil), doing one my first ever Sister Spit shows there, and reveling in curating the spoken word for the legendary HomoAGogo for a few years, I have also watched people there just cook their asses off. My friend Sash Sunday (who is also presently my teammate for the upcoming Hood to Coast this August) grew up there. She lives outside of town now but blesses the town with the award-winning OlyKraut she co-founded. And never one to let anything go to waste, she uses the kraut brine for her veggies (that she grows). It’s simple she says. Original Sauerkraut Brine, Grape Seed Oil, and one clove of crushed garlic. Mmmm. To me this clearly asks for some lightly steamed broccoli, blood orange, spinach, and toasted walnuts.
And me? I’ll leave you with this photograph for some inspiration. Do with it what you will. But please, don’t buy any more dressing.