Monday, May 12, 2008

Creating Your House Salad

In the home kitchen it seems people who really enjoy cooking turn out a fine salad.

Your house salad depends entirely on your tastes. It's fashioned with some balance to the sweet and salty elements in every dressing. I tend to pour about 3 T vinegar to 5 T olive oil. Since your dressing has to season a whole bowl of greens, always add salt and a few turns of the pepper mill. Sugar, too - it balances out the acidity of the vinegar. Other additions (Gorgonzola, Parmesan, fresh pear or pomegranate, garlic, dijon) or substitutions (fresh lemon or lime juice instead of the vinegar; using different oils) depend on the mood I'm in as much as what else is on the menu that night.

I'm often asked what brands to chose for oils and vinegars. I just love Colavita - they're so dependable for all their products (they produce oils and vinegars). I exclusively use their aged red wine, Champagne, and balsamic vinegars. As for olive oil, I've been really happy with a relatively inexpensive Spanish olive oil from Trader Joe's. It comes in a clear glass bottle, squarish in shape. Always use the best quality oil for your salads. Since they're not cooked you'll get great flavor and all the health benefits.

As much as my family could live on romaine and red leaf alone, I like a variety of greens: spring mix, baby spinach, arugula, frisee, and butter or Bibb. Usually the market dictates the salad. I buy what looks good and cook accordingly. Of course standbys like romaine are always available which is one reason the Chicken Caesar Salad is such a family friendly meal.

Eight Favorite Pinch Salads
1. House Salad
2. Caesar
3. Seatown Salad
4. Greek Salad
5. Spicy Baby Spinach
6. Asian Salad
7. Balsamic Vinaigrette
8. Spring Salad Nicoise

Care to share your favorite dressings?


Unknown said...

Hi Katie! My new favorite salad for the last 2 years has been one bunch of Lacinto Kale and one or two fennel bulbs, Slice the kale into thin ribbons and the fennel into thin slices. Toss with EVOO and juice of 1/2 lemon, sea salt and pepper. Top with shavings of fresh parmagiano reggiano! Yum! Also, I love to use freshly squeezed grapefruit juice as the acid in salad dressing. It goes so well with olive oil! I like to use this dressing on endive, arugula and avocado with some grapefruit sections as a garnish.

Kristine from SNOWY Telluride

Unknown said...

Hi Again! It's Kristine again. I forgot to tell you that I also put pine nuts - raw or toasted, (but I always burn them while toasting so I save myself the time and use raw) in the Kale and fennel salad!

Katie Fairbank said...

Yum! Love the ideas. I have not eaten kale in awhile, but suspect to eat a lot of it now that the farmers market is open for the season. I'm not a huge fan of fennel but i'm willing to try it again...

I have taken to setting the timer for my pine nuts - i ALWAYS burn them. It seems 2 minutes is just right. thanks for commenting! ;)