Thursday, May 28, 2009

Garden State Salad Dressing (Oh New Jersey!)

As a native of the Garden State (home of the best tomatoes in the western world) one of the first things I learned to make in the kitchen was salad dressing. Making your own is one of the easiest kitchen tasks imaginable; home made is fresher tasting, more flavorful and far healthier than anything from a bottle.

When I began mixing up my first salad dressings, no one had ever heard of balsamic vinegar, raspberry- infused vinegars or extra virgin olive oil; red wine vinegar and olive oil were what we knew and always kept on hand. You may use apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or rice vinegar if you prefer. Dried herbs work well in this recipe, as long as they haven't been on your shelf for too long. If you have fresh oregano or marjoram, crush the leaves a bit before adding them to the dressing.

Oil and vinegar recipes usually call for a ratio of 3 parts oil to one part vinegar; in this recipe the proportions are reversed because I just don't like that much oil on my salad. You may adjust the oil - vinegar ratio to your preference. After making this recipe a few times, you'll learn to portion out the oil and vinegar without a measuring spoon. Here's all that's needed to make a delicious simple oil and vinegar dressing:

a glass jar which holds about 1+1/2 cups, with tight fitting lid
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 or 3 pinches dried oregano or marjoram
1 or 2 pinches sea salt

Place all ingredients in jar, close tightly and shake vigorously. Dip a piece of whatever leafy green is handy into the dressing; taste and adjust seasoning. If the dressing is too sharp, add a tablespoon of water.

Serve on your favorite leafy green salad, sliced ripe tomatoes, or on steamed vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, green beans, or Yukon Gold potatoes. Dressing will keep in the fridge for several days; shake well before serving.