Jun 06

In the first part of this series I focused on vinaigrettes, which are usually my go-to choice for dressing a salad. I can’t resist a properly made Caesar salad, though, and once I learned how to make an exceptional one from scratch it was hard to have it any other way. Creamy emulsifications have their place in the salad world, and with the right ratio of ingredients and sure fire method, can alone elevate a simple tangle of greens or plate of raw vegetables. Due to their richness, a little goes a long way, and the balance of remaining garnishes in the salad should be carefully considered so as not to be overwhelming.

Caesar

I have yet to encounter a Caesar dressing I like quite as well as this one I can prepare in my very own kitchen. Instead of anchovies, I start with two cloves of raw garlic that add a sharp edge to the underlying flavor. The raw egg yolk works as an emulsifier in a way that nothing else can so that the end result has a satiny consistency and buttery rich finish that will perfectly coat romaine leaves. The two secret ingredients, whole grain mustard and balsamic vinegar, add a sweet bite to the dressing that cuts the richness of the oil and parmesean cheese. My idea of comfort food is this dressing tossed throughout a grilled steak Caesar salad with plenty of toasted sourdough croutons, oven roasted tomatoes and shavings of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano over top.

Recipe:

1 egg yolk

1 tsp whole grain mustard

2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly chopped

¼ C fresh lemon juice

½ C grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

¼ C extra virgin olive oil

¼ C canola oil

2 Tbsp water

Method: Place the egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice and cheese into a blender and pulse to combine. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oils until a thick emulsion has formed. Add the water, balsamic and salt and pepper to taste. If you find the dressing is too thick to lightly coat your salad, add a bit more water until you reach the desired consistency.

Green Goddess

I stumbled upon this wonderful variation of a ranch dressing while working my way through Michel Richard’s book Happy in the Kitchen. The appendix of the book is a treasure trove of what he considers fundamental recipes, and many of them are simple little gems to put together.  Richard calls this “Shallot Dressing” which I think is a rather dressed down version of the truth. In reality, it is a creamy, herb infused emulsion that elevates your typical ranch dressing to an entirely new level. The combination of loads of fresh herbs creates such a bright and lively, fresh-from-the-garden flavor that I often refer to this among friends as my “Green Goddess” dressing. While it is a lovely coating for mixed greens, my usual way to serve it is as a dip along side crisp, snappy crudité. Be careful not to over blend this, though, as you will quickly lose the vibrant grassy color that makes this stand out.

Recipe:

½ C mayo

½ tsp Dijon

¼ minced shallots

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp water

¼ C each chives, basil, and dill

Salt & pepper

Method: Blend all of the ingredients together until just combined.

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