Part two, of my Green Salad Series!
Now that you have picked up a dark green head of lettuce (sighing blissfully whenever you think of all of those nutrients packed inside those leafs), and washed and dried it. It’s time for the next very important step, picking out your dressing.
I am a huge advocate of making your own dressing. It takes less than 5 minutes to make a simple one, it’s 100 times better for you than even most of the “healthy” versions bought at the store, and it’s often much cheaper as well. I often will make a large batch and keep it in my refrigerator. So it takes about 5 minutes to make a week’s worth of salad dressings! It works for me! At the end of this post I will give directions for making a simple, but delicious vinaigrette. But let’s focus on our ingredients, which will ensure the success of our dressing.
For dressings, my oil of choice is olive oil.
“Olive oil contains 75 percent oleic acid, the stable monounsaturated fat, along with 13 percent saturated fat, 10 percent omega 6 linoleic acid, and 2 percent omega 3 linolenic acid. The high percentage of oleic acid makes olive oil ideal for salads and for cooking at moderate temperatures. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants. It should be cloudy, indicating that it has not been filtered, and have a golden yellow color, indicating that it is made from fully ripened olives. Olive oil has withstood the test of time;it’s the safest vegetable oil you can use…”Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg19
Along with her tips for picking out a good olive oil, I add the following.
*Look for an olive oil that is in a dark glass bottle. This helps preserve olive oil’s properties and prevent it from becoming rancid
*Remember to look for the words, cold-pressed, and extra virgin olive oil. You want to avoid chemically treated olive oil (which is where we get “light” olive oil).
*Also remember that different olive oils will taste differently. You may find you prefer some brands over others.
* I keep a price list of organic olive oils, so I know when there is a good deal. Make sure you check how much it costs per ounce, not bottle.
What come next? Our vinegar. This is where we really branch out into all different directions!
A favorite for many people is balsamic vinegar. It has a rich, sweetly mellow taste. I haven’t found a favorite organic brand yet, but Trader Joes had a 20 year aged balsamic vinegar that was very good.
I have recently fallen in love with this brand of organic vinegars. I had no idea that vinegar could be sooo flavorful! They also are organic. What’s so different about this vinegar? They use a good old fashioned method to making it. I found this description on their website.
“We personally select only premium wines from California’s top vineyards, using fully ripe grapes that are intense and fruity.
Kimberley Wine Vinegars are made with the ancient French Orleans method, taking a minimum of six months to age to perfection. This slow, careful, barrel fermentation produces an exceptional vinegar and superior flavor and quality. (Most bulk-produced vinegars are made in as little as three days and are often diluted with water.)
To start, we partially fill small oaks casks with wine. Then each cask receives select bacterial that slowly converts, or ferments the wine into vinegar. Ventilation holes in each cask allow normal air currents to carry off fermentation by-products, avoiding the bitterness found in some vinegars.
We do not add any chemicals to our vinegars at any time.”
And let me tell you, you can really tell a difference in taste. I love it. I have tried their Cabernet Sauvigon, which is like a red wine vinegar. It is very full flavored. I think we have gone through several of these already. I have also tried their champagne vinegar, which is a lighter, sweeter vinegar. It is also very good. I can’t wait to try their balsamic as well. I may have just found a good organic balsamic at last! You can buy them at Whole Foods and other markets.
So there are just a few options for you to start with. I will highlight other vinegars as time goes on, but these are some great ones to start with. If you can’t find particular brands, don’t worry. Get what looks good and go from there. And, as always, I would love to hear from you what your favorite olive oil and vinegar brands are.
So now that we have discussed our oil and vinegar, it’s time for our recipe!
This recipe is simple, but classy. It uses what many consider the perfect ratio of oil to vinegar. If you pick out flavorful olive oil and vinegar it’s hard to go wrong! Some, especially those used to sugar laden dressings, may want to add a bit of sweetener to tame the tang. A dash of stevia, or a spoonful of honey, agave, or rapadura, all work. I often make it as simple as this, but sometimes I will add some Dijon mustard, and/or some fresh or dried herbs.
1/3 cup of vinegar
2/3 cup of olive oil
1/2-1 teaspoon of salt
1 garlic clove, minced
Combine in a glass jar, whisk or shake to combine well, and toss with salad greens right before serving.
Another favorite dressing of ours uses apple cider vinegar. Check out Our Everyday Salad Dressing as well.