Tuesday, January 17, 2017

All The Fixings

One of the easiest and fun dishes to make is a salad. Make it as healthy or as decadent as you want - although the main motive is healthy. It's a great way of adding fresh veggies to the diet and can compliment any dish from  a simple pizza to an elaborate roast. Another plus is that it can stand alone as a main meal too.

A salad is composed of basically three parts. The greens , the dressing and the embellishments. The greens don't even have to be - well - green. Tomatoes can also be used as a base along with broccoli, string beans or beets. Luckily supermarkets such as Stop & Shop and Acme have bags of all sorts of blends. One of my new favorites is Stop & Shop' spring greens and baby kale. This is a flavorful, mix without ay bitter aftertaste - which makes it a great base, It's also a nice departure from the usual Romaine and arugula blend, although these are versatile too. They also hold up nicely to some of the heavier dressings . Other veggies play an important part too. Carrots and broccoli add a nice crunch and flavor as do peppers. Of course the old standard tomatoes give any salad a certain unami and sweetness. Grape tomatoes are my go to. They don't have to be cut and they have a lovely almost sugary flavor.Tomato salads, however, demand a heartier kind. Vine ripes, that are sold with the vines still attached to them are the best. They have to hold up to olive oil, and garlic along with mozzarella at times.

Dressing is the much needed oomph that makes a salad special. A simple vinaigrette always suffices, especially if it's a dinner co-star The perfect one has three tablespoons of oil to a tablespoon of vinegar. What oil works? Olive oil is the most preferred however vegetable oil is just as good, with its' clean light taste.As for vinegars, red  wine is good. Some have garlic added for extra flavor. I'm partial to apple cider vinegar which has a sweet, fruity taste that takes away from any of the green's bitterness. Now that I 've rediscovered my cruet ,I've been creating my own yummy homemade ones. I've made a honey tarragon using the Carmel Honey Company's orange blossom honey.There's a citrusy tang to it that works well with the tarragon. Another tasty one to make is an oregano garlic one, with a vinaigrette base. I added crushed garlic to it and it was one of the most delicious ones. I have also discovered Fresh Gourmet's Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper sliced almonds. This is a wonderful, crunchy add-in with a peppery bite. It works well with the kale, greens and tomatoes. Think about other add ins such as sesame  seeds, walnuts and pecans. There are also cheese wafers that give salads a chewy , fun boost. Also think of sweet addins such as dried cranberries or Mandarin orange slices.
Salads are what you make them to be. Create lush or spartan ones, depending on your appetite. They tasty and delicious, along with being nutritious and good for you.

Basic Vinaigrette, Three parts any kind of oil to any kind of vinegar. Add sea salt and fresh ground  pepper to these in a cruet . Shake to mix.

Honey tarragon. Add one teaspoon any kind of honey and a tablespoon of dried tarragon to the vinaigrette .

Garlic Oregano. Add freshly pressed garlic and a heaping tablespoon of oregano to the vinaigrette. 

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