Friday, May 13, 2011

The First Greens of the Season

The lettuce is up! Woohoo! After being a little tardy in my planting and after a very cold spring, we finally have lettuce to fill our salad bowls. Last night we had a delicious and simple salad of greens, green onions (also from the garden) and shredded carrots (from Trader Joe's).

Aside from the fresh from the garden greens, the two things that make this salad are the shredded carrots and the vinaigrette.

You can buy shredded carrots in a bag at the store and they are perfectly good. But you can also buy a Julienne peeler. I happen to have two, oddly. One my mom gave me after I had been coveting hers and one Dave bought me because I had been coveting my mom's. These little tools are great. Instant fancy salad without the fuss on getting out your mandoline.

As for the vinaigrette, the basic formula is 3 parts oil to 1 part acid, usually vinegar, but citrus juice and soy sauce count too. I usually  make vinaigrette in a small mason or jelly jar. Start by adding 2 inches of oil, 1 inch of vinegar and then add any of the following to suit your tastes: mustard, brown sugar, maple syrup, soy, lemon/lime/orange juice. For an Asian variation use rice vinegar and add any or all of the following: soy, hoisin, sriracha, mirin, fish sauce, ginger.

Next time you are contributing a salad to a potluck dinner, make your own dressing too. Homemade dressing is like homemade whipped cream; it invariably impresses folks and has the power to mask a less than impressive salad or dessert. Trust me.

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