I’m a picky eater, plain and simple. There are a lot of things I absolutely will not eat. I don’t care if you have your great-grandmother Evelyn’s cookbook full of time-tested family recipes, if it’s fish, I’m not eating it (too bad for that since it’s so nutritious!). Don’t ask me to; we all will regret it. I also don’t care if you make your amazing potato salad different than everyone else. I guarantee you I hate almost everything in it, so why would I like yours? Oh and please, Please, PLEASE don’t expect me to humor you and “take just one teensy little bite”! I am too nice a lot of the time, but seriously, I can’t just choke stuff down in order to not make you feel bad. Sorry.
But my pickiness has caused me to become a more creative cook, so there’s a positive, right?! Just a side note, but there are a lot of [weird] things a lot of people don’t like that I love, like Brussels sprouts and stuff like that, so I don’t know…maybe something’s wrong with my taste buds. But I digress.
I have a very difficult time with condiments and salad dressings, and although I’m better than I used to be, I still like very few. I love salads and for years I ate them with no dressing at all (and actually still do about half the time), but I have found it really simple and a lot healthier to make my own dressings.
Creating your own dressings is fun; you can put so many things in them and in different combinations so you never have a reason to be bored with the same old salad.
I pretty much only use vinaigrettes on my salads and tonight we’re having company, so I wanted to make something yummy to go with our grilled chicken, corn on the cob and roasted potatoes.
Vinaigrettes are always best made ahead of time and allowed to set so the flavors can meld together. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when coming up with your own vinaigrette recipes is to follow this ratio: 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. I don’t believe in specifics necessarily in cooking (baking is often another story), so don’t feel like you actually need to measure or adhere to the ratio guideline perfectly. It’s just a suggestion and depending on what type of oil or vinegar you use, you can often fudge a little on the ratio and have a delicious dressing nonetheless.
So here is today’s creation which I had for lunch and I’m also serving to company tonight. (A fresh batch, obviously.)
Fresh baby spinach leaves
Feta cheese crumbles
Toasted walnuts, chopped (throw a handful of raw walnuts in a skillet with a splash of olive oil and toast for five minutes…easy-peasy!)
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Dash of ground mustard
Place spinach leaves in large bowl. Add strawberries, feta and walnuts. Set aside.
In a food processor, add all dressing ingredients and pulse until mint is well chopped. Allow to set a few hours and shake well or whisk vigorously before tossing with salad.
One cup of vinaigrette goes a long way, so definitely don’t overdo it! One cup lasts a week or longer in our house. Just eyeball it and allow it to lightly coat the greens.
One other thing, some people may prefer this dressing with a little honey added in, so that’s an easy tweak you can make if it sounds good to you. I’m not big on sweet dressing and the strawberries add the perfect amount of sweetness in my opinion, but honey would be wonderful, too, depending on personal preference. Honey added to vinaigrettes keeps the oil and vinegar from separating, so that’s nice as well.
This salad is summer in a bowl!