Friday, January 28, 2011

The Big Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts, and Pears

Do you make your own salad dressing?  You should.  Vinaigrettes are so easy and quick; you won't believe it, and once you try it you'll never buy bottled dressing again.  I'll tell you how I make homemade Ranch later this week.

Learn this technique and you can make it with any vinegar (or with lemon), oil, and, spices.  

Basic Vinaigrette Recipe (I learned how to do this from watching Barefoot Contessa.  And this is her recipe.  That Jeffrey is one lucky man.)


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?)
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
3 tablespoons champagne* vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
Salad greens for 6 to 8 people

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, garlic, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified. (You can also put all the ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake it up.)

Place the salad greens in a medium bowl and add enough dressing to moisten. Sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.
The basic ratio for vinaigrette is one part vinegar to three or four parts oil.  I typically use much less oil, maybe one part vinegar to 2 parts oil, and sometimes equal amounts depending on the flavor of the vinegar and other spices I'm using.  And I like a little sweetness in my dressing, so I add a touch of honey or just regular sugar.  Just use whatever ratio tastes right to you and you'll have a perfect vinaigrette. 

We ate the Big Salad with basic vinaigrette, goat cheese, pears, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds.  I added cold leftover roast chicken as well.  The key to keeping the Big Salad healthy is to go easy on the dressing and cheese (and no croutons).

*Btw, you can't buy champagne vinegar at Wal Mart around here. I do have to go to the health food/gourmet store (Ozark Natural Foods) for it.  My friend has even brought it from Dallas for me while she was there visiting family.  It's my favorite vinegar and it's really that good.  I could always get in on the interwebz, too, I suppose.