The Last of the Summer Salads
Posted: Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Salads are a great late summer meal option when it's too hot to cook and the makings are local and in season. Get them in now, before you're hankering turns to all things soupy!
Here are two new salad recipes and some ideas for changing up your personal favorites:
Going Green (and purple, and yellow...)
Ever notice that some salad recipes call for greens by head or bunch, some by dry measure (cups) and others by weight? Don't stress. Green salad recipes are pretty flexible. Recipes specifying weight are usually more sensitive to exactitude and recipes specifying dry measures are generally more elastic. Here's help, if you need it:
- 1 medium head or bunch of iceberg, leaf or romaine lettuce (typically weighing in at about 1 lb.) will yield 8 cups of torn lettuce, or about 1 cup for each 2 oz.
- Boston (Bibb or Butter lettuce) is lighter and the heads are smaller. A medium head weighs about 8 oz. (1/2 lb.) and yields 6 cups of torn lettuce.
- Arugula and baby spinach leaves yield about 1 cup per oz.
- A head of cabbage or Napa cabbage will typically yield about 8 cups, shredded.
Looking for some different greens to mix in your salads? Try the interesting flavors and textures in these crispy choices:
Let's Play Dress-Up!
Nothing beats fresh, homemade salad dressing, and they couldn't be easier to make. You can create a custom vinaigrette with just about any flavor of oil and vinegar, in a ratio anywhere between 4:1 (classic) to 2:1. Just be sure to use top-quality oils and vinegars that taste great on their own. There's no masking off flavors in a salad dressing. From there, just season with salt and pepper, a pinch of sugar and any herbs or spices that compliment the flavors in your salad (finely minced garlic or garlic paste, prepared mustard and shallots are popular whisk ins). You can also experiment with nut oils, such as walnut, and flavored vinegars such as fig, apple and ginger when those flavors flatter the ingredients in your salads.
All vinaigrettes will separate over time, but a bit of mustard, a pasteurized egg yolk, or a little mayonnaise will stabilize them a little longer. Traditionally, vinaigrettes are made by very slowly streaming in and briskly whisking oil into the other ingredients, but you can achieve the same results by vigorously shaking ingredients together in a screw-top glass jar. When they separate, just shake 'em up again!
Make simple, creamy dressings by whisking together a base of mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt (or a combination) and the flavorings of your choice. You can thin the mixture to drizzling consistency with a little bit of low-fat buttermilk, citrus juice, vinegar, water or combination. Mix in ingredients such as cheese (like blue or Parmesan), herbs, salt, pepper, garlic, honey (or other sweetener) and mustard in combinations that suit your fancy. You can make mayo-based creamy dressing healthier by swapping in Dijon mustard, low-fat sour cream or low-fat yogurt (including Greek), or a combination in place of part of the mayonnaise.