Alton Brown and I* have been talking about salad and greens together. Because I am some sort of anti-American weirdo abnormal freak, I love salads. Specifically, while I also love things like potato or grain-or-legume-based salads, I write here of my deep and abiding love for leafy salads which most people around here think of when they hear the word “salad.”
I love their crunch. I love their coolness, either in contrast to other parts of a meal or on their own in one giant, glorious bowl of leafy glory. I don’t care if the greens are bitter and dark or pale and nearly devoid of any sort of nutritious value. I love them all.
Last year, I found out I could enjoy my love year-round without it getting shipped out from far away places like California or a foreign country. We have a place called FarmedHere located in Chicagoland. You can read all about it here, but to sum up they are growing greens and herbs organically (and vertically) indoors and providing them indoors to several nearby grocery stores (closest to us: Shop and Save). This is good news for all sorts of reasons, like being good for both human health and the planet as a whole. I was way more excited than a regular human should have been when I read about it. I desperately want to visit and see how it works.
Now that you know how easy it is to find fresh, healthy greens and herbs, Alton* and I would like to talk to you about salad dressing. Granted, he and I don’t always agree on convenience items; I know we don’t all have the time to make everything from scratch, me might not have the equipment or stock all sorts of ingredients, and we certainly don’t have a cleaning staff. But salad dressing is so easy and so much better than bottled stuff. The next time you empty a jar of something (jelly, spaghetti sauce, whatever) don’t throw it away. Wash it out and keep it for your own homemade dressing.
I asked Alton* for a vinaigrette recipe and for once he managed not to over-complicate things. Here it is. (although he just HAD to say 2 ounces instead of 1/4 cup. It’s a 1/4 cup of vinegar. Use whatever vinegar you have, although that regular white stuff is pretty harsh. But apple cider vinegar or balsamic would work.)
You can make a creamy (think ranch) dressing pretty easily, too. You do need mayonnaise, but if you don’t have buttermilk you can make some out of regular milk or just thin out sour cream with milk. This is pretty much how I make it, although I didn’t follow this recipe, I just made it up myself and these people eerily read my mind and put it up on the internet somehow. They must be listening in to Alton and my conversations.
Anyway, using those basic vinaigrette or creamy dressing bases, you can tailor the recipes for different flavor profiles. Add honey to the vinaigrette. Change out the spices to ginger and add more garlic and a little soy sauce. Stuff like that. As long as the vinaigrettes are all shakey-shakey in the jar and the creamy ones are all whisky-whisky in a bowl before you pour it in the jar you’re good to go. (wait; whisky-whisky sounds wrong, doesn’t it? you know what I mean)
I know you may be skeptical, and I don’t want anyone at Kraft or Wishbone to be fired over this, but please try making your own dressing instead of compulsively reaching for the bottled stuff. I love you almost as much as I love salad, and I want you to have good stuff.
Alton agrees with me completely. Don’t you, Alton?
*Of course, what I mean is I’ve been carrying on an imaginary conversation in my head.