the simplest salad

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I have a tendency to over-complicate things.  I read extensively about simple ingredients like spinach, I go through a set of tabs every other week while book-marking recipes and I have an entire notebook that is pretty much just lists (of favorite meals, of recipes to try, of fruits & vegetables – categorized by season – that I love to eat).  The ironic part is that all my reading and book-marking and list-making is done in an effort to make things simpler.  Because when you finally find those “go-to” recipes, and fill up pages and pages of them in your kitchen notebook, it becomes a little bit easier to make a really great meal out of almost nothing.

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And by almost nothing I mean a bunch of greens and some basic pantry staples.  This “foolproof vinaigrette” is, indeed, foolproof.  It’s simple enough to whip up quickly on a weeknight, engineered well enough to last all week in the fridge and delicious enough that you’ll want to make it for guests.  Or just eat it four nights in a row – on the side of whatever else you happen to make (or not make).

the simplest salad
yield: enough dressing to cover 8-10 cups greens (for me, this was 4 servings)

recipe notes:  This is a perfectly delicious vinaigrette to make and eat at once, if you need 4-6 servings of salad.  I’ve also found that it keeps very well, perhaps even improving, over a week in the fridge, as the ingredients have had time to get to know each other a little longer.  When I make an individual salad for just me, I pour about a quarter of the vinaigrette (about a Tablespoon) into a large-ish bowl.  I then pour the greens on top, toss them about gently (with a wooden spoon or tongs) and then plate it.  If you need to make it a meal, top with a poached, fried, soft- or hard-boiled egg, serve alongside toasted crusty (gluten-free, if need be) bread.  Or, add some leftover anything (parsnips & carrots, chickpeas, roasted mushrooms) and toss.

for the dressing:
1 Tablespoon wine vinegar (red, white or champagne will work)
1 1/2 teaspoons very finely minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon regular or light mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

for the salad:
8-10 cups greens, washed & dried (I love spinach, but whatever fresh greens you have on hand will work perfectly, as well)
a few shaves of parmesan (optional)
a pinch of cracked red pepper (optional)

1.  Combine vinegar, shallot, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper to taste in a small nonreactive bowl.  Whisk until mixture is milky in appearance and no lumps of mayonnaise remain.

2.  Place oil in small measuring cup so that it is easy to pour.  Whisking constantly, very slowly drizzle oil into vinegar mixture. If pools of oil are gathering on surface as you whisk, stop addition of oil and whisk mixture well to combine, then resume whisking in oil in slow stream. Vinaigrette should be glossy and lightly thickened, with no pools of oil on its surface.

3.  To dress the salad, first pour vinaigrette into a large bowl.  Pour the salad greens over the vinaigrette.  Using tongs (or even just two wooden spoons), toss the greens gently with the vinaigrette, coating evenly.  Shave parmesan over top and a pinch of cracked red pepper.

source: Foolproof Vinaigrette recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (steak frites episode)

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One thought on “the simplest salad

  1. Pingback: eggs florentine « Recipes Remembered

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