Balsamic & Walnut Oil Dressing

Balsamic & Walnut Oil Dressing is great for salads with blue cheese.  Walnut oil is very distinctive and can be blended with other oils to reduce its intensity.

Ingredients

1/4 C balsamic vinegar

1/2 C walnut oil

2 t sweet mustard *

1 t garlic minced

Salt and pepper

1/4 t red pepper flakes (optional) **

Directions

Mince garlic or use a garlic press.

Add ingredients to a salad dressing shaker and shake until emulsified. Taste to adjust seasoning.  Oil can also be whisked in a deep bowl.

Note

* If sweet mustard is not available, mix 2 tsp of Dijon mustard and 2 t sugar together,

** I like a little heat in my dressings, so I add pepper flakes.

Finding a Good Balsamic

Balsamic vinegars vary in degree of acidity and sweetness.  Real balsamic is always barrel-aged.  Authentic balsamic comes from the Modena region of Italy and may be very expensive..  However, it is possible to find affordable and great tasting balsamic.

I chose a moderate-priced balsamic for use in this salad dressing.  I either select my balsamic dressings by tasting before buying or by using a resource such as Consumer Reports or Cooks Illustrated.  Italian groceries and stores such as Williams Sonoma often have tastings, and it’s worth seeking out tastings to build the palate for different types of balsamic.  Using the Internet for recent reviews such as New York Times, Bon Appetit, Americas Test Kitchen, or Amazon also works.  If you are in California one country, many   wineries also feature balsamics.  Coscto also has a good balsamic under their Kirkland label.

Finally, there are traditional and white balsamic vinegars.  White balsamic is lighter and has a slight sweetness.  Happy hunting for your favorites.

Lemon Garlic Dressing

Garlic-infused lemon salad dressing is robust and excellent for any bold salad.  The strong flavor balances nicely against the light texture of this dressing.

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil

5 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/8 cup or 2 Tbsp Parmesan Reggiani, finely grated

1/3 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed from 1 -3 lemons

Salt and pepper

Directions

Finely mince garlic.  The garlic should be fine enough it blends into the dressing.  If desired, use a garlic press to crush garlic prior to mincing to achieve a fine texture.

Squeeze juice from lemons to get 1/3 cup.  The amount of juice and acidity will vary.  Taste the lemon juice to determine if slightly more or less lemon juice will be needed.  For highly acidic lemons, add part of the lemon juice at the beginning to make dressing.  Add the remainder to get desired lemon flavor.

Place oil and lemon juice in a salad dressing shaker or bowl where dressing can be whisked.

Add minced garlic and cheese.

Add pinch of salt and ground black pepper.  Shake or whisk dressing until well mixed — if not, the garlic and cheese may settle as seen in the picture below.

IMG_2547

Notes

Use the best olive oil available for salad dressings. An extra virgin olive oil that is fruity and peppery is my favorite for salad dressings and dipping.

I buy a Parmesan-Reggiano that is cut from a wheel. I bought pre-packaged Parmesan that was expensive and was disappointed. It made a big difference in the flavor balance of the salad dressing and the taste of the finished dressed salad.

Arugula Radicchio Bay Blue Salad

A salad of traditionally more bitter greens dressed in a sweet lime dressing paired with creamy blue cheese and ripe pears. A salad that is crunchy and has bitter and sweet overtones with a creamy finish. 

Ingredients

5 ounces arugula*

1/2 head radicchio chopped

1 pear sliced or cubes

1/2 C blue cheese(Point Reyes Bay Blue)*

Dressing

1/2 C olive oil

1/4 C lime juice

1/2 C fro age

4 t maple syrup(real)

1/2 C fromage Blanca or sour cream

1/2 t cumin

1/4 t red pepper flakes

Directions

Dressing

Place  ingredients into salad dressing shaker and emulsify by shaking. Set aside

Salad

Place arugula and radicchio in salad bowl. Add pears and blue cheese. Drizzle dressing toss and serve.

Notes

Pecans or bacon crumbles added are a complimentary addition.

*Our groceries have an abundance of organic greens that are affordable, arugula being one.

*Point Reyes Bay Blue is a mild blue made from cows milk. It’s a cheese that pairs well with fruits like pears. As a substitute in the salad I would use a Roquefort or Gorgonzola. As an aside when traveling I like the Seattle International Airport because it has an artisan cheese shop that is called Beechers. Instead of spending time waiting for a flight I am sampling and buying cheese for my use or as gifts.