We began our moving process today so naturally we had record breaking heat. My loquat tree died. A lone tomato on one of my three tomato plants cooked and turned to mush on the vine. It was truly a scorcher today. (This was written about a month ago, and we will be in a moving shuffle with limited internet access for at least another month or two - apologies for the long silences...)
When the thermometer reads 110 outside it's way too hot to cook anything. It's almost too hot to eat, but a crisp salad still sounds pretty good. I stopped buying any form of salad dressing about two years ago. Once I got better at making vinaigrettes and got in the habit I never went back. Every once in a while I think it would be so convenient to just pick up a bottle at the store that will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. Then I pick up a bottle and look at the ingredients and change my mind. The first ingredient is usually water, often followed by high fructose corn syrup or other long words that I don't understand.
The ingredients for making a delicious dressing at home are shelf stable and easy to keep on hand. It's nice to know exactly what you're eating, and it's also much less expensive than buying dressings. For a basic vinegrette, you will need olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard.
Mustard is the secret ingredient. Did you know that it is a wonderful emulsifier? This means that just a little teaspoon of mustard will make your oil and vinegar come together in creamy beauty. Without it, your dressing will quickly separate and have a layer of oil on top, as pictured above. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's impressive what a little mustard can do.
Dressing for about 4 to 6 salads
7 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dijon mustard or more to taste
optional additions: 1 teaspoon honey, 1 clove roasted garlic (my favorite) or grated fresh garlic, fresh herbs, grainy mustard, or grated onion
Place all ingredients in a bowl or a jar with a tight fitting lid and stir or shake vigorously. Taste and adjust to your preference. This is just a jumping off point. You may find that you like less vinegar, or that you prefer a grainy brown mustard or more salt. I like to use one Tablespoon balsamic vinegar and one white wine vinegar and I often add another Tablespoon or two of water because we tend to be heavy handed when pouring dressing. If you don't add any fresh ingredients, this will keep for a very long time unrefrigerated. If you add fresh herbs or garlic, keep it in the fridge to last longer, and set it out to warm up before using.
We had these salads for dinner ( The tiny salad is for our little boy) with some bread, and this simple dessert. To assemble, chop strawberries or other fresh fruit and top with yogurt and crumbled cookies. This happens to be blueberry flavored greek yogurt and animal cookies because that's what I had on hand. Plain yogurt with honey would also be lovely. Even better: coconut whipped cream over fruit and topped with cookies!