Friday, August 18, 2017

Eats: My Favorite Salad Dressing

Hello! I eat salads throughout the year, either as a main course lunch or as a side to other meal components. But of course they taste the best during our local growing season. The produce looks as pretty as a picture then:

Above, my side salad includes leaf lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, radish and clover sprouts. I grew the tomatoes, cucumbers and the sprouts, while the other veggies came from the Farmer's Market. I'd started the tomatoes from seed; it's the Sweet 100 variety, very prolific. The cucumber came from a plant I bought at the Farmer's Market earlier this spring. The clover sprout seeds are from High Mowing, an organic seed company.

(Those nice slices of radish, cucumber and red onion are courtesy of this purchase, which I still love using as much as I did when I first got it). 

And lastly, my favorite salad dressing, visible as the pale yellow, thick topping. The recipe came from an Internet source, but I don't recall where now. 

Tahini-Ginger Salad Dressing (adapted from an Internet source)

2 tablespoons tahini 
Juice of one lemon (see note below)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (see note below)
2 teaspoons honey (see note below)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

The directions are merely one line: "mix all together in small bowl". However, I find the dressing mixes best when I blend the tahini, lemon juice and honey together first, then stir in the olive oil and seasonings. Store in refrigerator until needed (I use a glass jar). If using after being stored, stir a little first.

Notes: I don't always have fresh lemons on hand, even though I know they make a better-tasting juice than the bottled stuff. But it's the bottled stuff I typically use. My bottle of Real Lemon says that three tablespoons of their product equals the juice of one medium lemon, so that's what I put in the dressing. 

Could you use dried ginger powder instead of fresh ginger? I'm guessing you could, but here's a case where I've always used the fresh product when called for instead of subbing in its more processed version. I use a couple of tips to make handling fresh ginger easier: 

1. I cut it into chunks that'll work in my recipes
(smaller chunks for this dressing recipe, larger pieces for stir fry dishes). I cut it as is, no peeling done. I put the pieces in a quart freezer bag, then stash it in the freezer. 

2. When I need fresh ginger in a recipe, I just take out a chunk I  from that freezer bag. The peel cuts off very easily while frozen. For this recipe and ones that call for minced ginger, I use a grater (my Microplane grater does a great job), while the peeled chunk is still frozen. If the frozen ginger needs to cut into pieces instead, I set it aside for a few minutes to thaw a bit (or if in a hurry, I'll put it in the microwave for a few seconds). It's easier to cut if still a bit hard, rather than if thawed out completely. 

I suppose that fresh ginger loses a bit of its flavor if frozen first, then thawed out for use, but it beats the alternative: I'd buy a knob of fresh ginger and keep it in the produce crisper, only to have it go bad before I could use it up. 

Honey is messy to measure out, so I always just eyeball the 2 teaspoons needed for this recipe while squeezing or pouring it out of the bottle.

The recipe doesn't give the yield, but I think it makes around a cup. It can be scaled down, but I like this dressing so much I've occasionally doubled it. And why do I like it so much? It's a nice consistency: some dressings are so thin, they fall to the bottom of the salad bowl, while others can be thick and gloppy. This dressing seems to be just right. (note: it's a bit thick just out of the refrigerator, so I take it out to warm up a bit while I'm making my salad). And I don't know if this dressing is particularly healthy, but it tastes like it is. And besides tasting healthy, it tastes good!


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