Thursday, 2 October 2008

salad dressing

There is only one salad dressing. Well, there may be other dressings, but this is THE ONE to remember. It's the Long Family salad dressing. It's more than Elizabeth David could manage, to write this down. Her likely source book, by the marvellous Jean-Noel Escudier, doesn't list it.

What's it good for then? Well it's good for everything. It's great with any green salad. Other favourites of mine are sliced tomatoes, any lightly cooked veg, and pain bagnat.

So, everyone should have a pestle and mortar. Wooden. Hardwood is best. However, research tells me that they don't. So I'm giving two methods to make the dressing. Oh, and Jamie Oliver sells a strange thing with a ball in it - you could use that too, just make sure you mix the first batch of the ingredients before adding the olive oil. It does make a difference.

1 clove garlic (peeled)
salt (preferably maldon) hearty pinch
pepper several good grindings
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

3 to 4 tbsp best olive oil

with pestle and mortar
pound the garlic, pepper and salt together to make a fine puree, don't stint, really mash it up
add the vinegar
mix to a uniform paste
add olive oil and mix well

without pestle and mortar
finely chop the garlic (as small as you can, crushing it with the side of a knife first will release the delicious juices,and help get the skin off)

mix chopped garlic, pepper and salt together
add the vinegar
mix well
add olive oil and stir

use to dress your salad, shortly before eating it

If you don't like the smell of garlic on your fingers there are some gizmos to help reduce contact with the garlic, but don't buy ready peeled garlic - the fresher the better. Still garlic is good for you, whether cooked or raw, but in the battle with cholesterol raw is best. 

you can make a larger batch and keep it in the fridge for around a week - remember, the longer it keeps, the stronger the garlic flavour, so you might want to use slightly less garlic

you can use this as a marinade, but then halve the quantity of oil

My friend Alex makes the dressing with balsamic, which is nice but sweeter. Kitty has taken to this, and waits until everyone has eaten their fill, then adds balsamic to my dressing and eats straight from the bowl, which is slightly embarassing.

I like to dress green salad just before serving it. If you put the dressing on and let the leaves sit they don't look the same.

Use dressing as a suntan oil, as an old flatmate used to, well it was lemon and olive oil, she explained that you can't have too many freckles. I have no idea how her skin has fared because we've lost touch.

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