Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice Dressing

Today was the longest day of the year, and one of the most beautiful we've had in a long time. It was a breezy June day in Upstate New York, spent outside in the flowers and the dirt. We planned a meal worthy of the first day of summer, and were blessed with good friends and cheerful preschoolers to share it with. It is hard to weigh which of the two is more rare, but both are particularly lovely to spend time with.

I set out to make a spinach salad to accompany our Hebrew National Hot Dogs (cooked over our charcoal Weber grill, of course), having discovered to my delight that it was spinach and not arugula that arrived this week. However, as the recipe came into focus, I felt that the peppery flavors of this week's Mesculin Mix would be more suited for what I had in mind.

I soaked thinly sliced red onion. This took away some of the acidity, while leaving the sweetness. I sliced off the outer peel of the orange, in order to cut out supremes (the fruit of the orange, without peel or inner skin). I spun everything together in my faithful salad spinner and began to concoct the dressing.

Using the parsley from this week's share, I adapted a recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home for Creamy Garlic Dressing. The resulting concoction balanced savory and sweet, echoing the flavors of the oranges and red onion in the salad. A small amount of mayonnaise substituted for the milk made the dressing parve, while allowing it to retain a creamy finish. The citrus and the fresh herbs gave it a summer flavor and a lightness despite the mayo. When served with our Hebrew Nationals, Tonya's Potato Salad, Roasted Corn on the Cob and Sweet Fire Pickles from The Farm at Kristy's Barn, our meal tasted like the first day of summer. It was really just a beautiful day.

Summer Solstice Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

1 bag Mesculin Mix
3 oranges
1 medium red onion (we considered doing a sweet brine for these)

3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1/2 cup chopped Parsley
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 orange
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 T honey
1/2 cup light mayonnaise (Yes, full fat mayo is fine, but this dressing doesn't need it.)

1. Rinse greens and spin dry. Thinly slice onion. Rinse, then place in a bowl of water to soak while prepping other ingredients.

2. Cut top and bottom off of 3 oranges. Cut outer peel off. Using a paring knife, cut down one side of a section, then use your knife to flick out the fruit. You have created an orange supreme. Toss together with mesculin mix and red onion immediately before serving.

3. Add all dressing ingredients to a food processor. Puree until blended. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Realize making you own salad dressing IS that easy, and never buy Wishbone/Kens/Kraft again. 

4. Save a soft spot in your heart for Hidden Valley Ranch and Newman's Own.

We served the salad with the dressing on the side. Due to the raw garlic in the dressing, I recommend allowing folks/toddlers to apply it according to their own taste. The flavor is not overwhelming by any means, but it is distinct. Try adding some scallions from this week's share into the dressing and see what ensues! As always, share and enjoy.

What's your favorite salad  to salad dressing combination? Do you have a bottled dressing you can live with?

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