Salad Days Are Here Again

By: Anne Hynes

One of the best parts of summer is all the amazing fresh produce available in Ontario. A great way to make the most of nature's bounty is with salad. Salad need not be limited to lettuce leaves in a bowl – it can include cooked vegetables, grains, pickles, or meat and can be served hot, cold or room temperature, and it can be served morning, noon or night (think fruit salad at breakfast!)  Because salad is such a diverse and creative medium, I would argue the element that really makes a salad a cohesive dish is the dressing.

Although I love a creamy dressing, my usual go to for salad is a vinaigrette.  Vinaigrette is so easy to make and so versatile. As long as there is some in the fridge, there really is no excuse to not whip up a salad. But, why stop there? Try using vinaigrette on warm grilled vegetables at your next barbeque. How about using vinaigrette on some blanched green beans with cooked mini potatoes and fresh herbs at your next picnic? Why not drizzle some vinaigrette over slices of tomatoes and cucumber with thinly sliced red onion and torn basil for your next dinner party? You can even use vinaigrette to dress some good quality canned tuna and then simply add some finely chopped Vidalia onion and pickles for a lighter tuna salad – the sky really is the limit!

Making vinaigrette is quite simple. The trickiest part is making an emulsion, which is why most vinaigrettes contain Dijon mustard.  The following recipe is a base. Feel free to play with it by adding honey or finely chopped shallot or different flavours of vinegar, mustard and even oils. Or, try a bottle of our new Sanagan's House Vinaigrette, which is available at both the Kensington and Gerrard stores – you really can't get simpler than that!  

Basic Vinaigrette
yield: about ½ cup

Ingredients

3 tbsp                    lemon juice or 2 tbsp vinegar, like apple cider or white wine
2 tsp                      Dijon mustard
¼ cup                    olive oil*
¼ cup                    canola or grapeseed oil
¼ tsp                     salt
to taste                 freshly cracked black pepper

Optional Ideas: 

2 tbsp                    minced shallot
1 tbsp                    honey
1 tsp                      fresh chopped herbs, like thyme
¼ clove                 garlic, minced

Method:

Mix vinegar, mustard, and salt in a small bowl. If using any of the optional ingredients, add them at this step.

Gradually whisk in the olive oil, followed by the canola oil. 

Season with pepper. Taste to adjust seasoning.

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to fourteen days. If separation occurs, shake well before using.

*Olive oil can be bitter and overpowering if used as the sole oil in vinaigrette, which is why this recipe also calls for mild tasting oil like canola or grapeseed.