Saturday, December 17, 2011

Green Salad and Vinaigrette

I think a salad should be simple and easy to make. When you're pressed for time, or busy making other things in the kitchen, it's good to be able to whip up your salad in a minute or two. You can do so with this recipe.There is really nothing to cut or process except for crushing some garlic and whisking the dressing.

The most important thing you do here is the whisking and though and it may be a little extra work, it should be done right. What we do is slowly add and whisk the oil instead of mixing everything at once. This way we can create an emulsion of oil and vinegar. An emulsion occurs when liquids of very different densities are mixed together. By slowly adding oil into the vinaigrette and whisking we are able to mix the two different density liquids into one homogenous liquid. Most dressings you buy off the shelf will have emulsifying agents in them to aid in this process so that once mixed, the different liquids are easier to homogenize, or make it so the two liquids will never separate, or both. While a molecular gastronomer may have some extra emulsion agents laying around, we don't, so were going to have to do it the old fashioned way using a whisk.

As far as greens go, you can use mesclun mix, baby spinach, baby lettuce, spring lettuce; just about anything green and leafy, and any combination of the greens listed here.

The type of vinegar can vary as well. I used tarragon vinegar last night, as that is what I had on hand. Though any flavored vinegar, and really any vinegar at all will work. Be sure to taste your dressing before you dress the greens and adjust the vinegar strength to your liking.

Green Salad and Vinaigrette:
3 handfuls of greens, (see above)

3 tablespoons flavored vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 heaping teaspoon  high quality Dijon mustard
Scant 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse kosher salt or table salt
Fresh cracked pepper

1. Whisk together the vinegar, garlic and mustard in a medium bowl.
2. Continue whisking and use your free hand to add the oil into the dressing. To do so, keep your whisk going at a good pace and drop a 1/4 teaspoon amount in at first. Keep whisking and adding more in this amount until about half of the oil is used. Slowly add the rest of the oil in a thin stream while whisking vigorously.
3. Taste the dressing and adjust the vinegar level, being sure to whisk in any additional vinegar.
4. Toss the salad in a small amount of the dressing. Salt and pepper the salad and toss again. Add just a tablespoon  more dressing, and toss one more time.
5. Serve the salad with the rest of your meal and the reserved dressing on the side.

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