I love salads. My favorite thing in the summer is green food. Simple green food, as in salads. I grew up with a mom who was a fabulous cook, she’s 91 now and everything she makes is way too salty but she’s still in there plugging along so have to give her props for that. I don’t buy bottled “Italian” dressing because I grew up with “California” dressing and everyone I know wants to know how I make it after they taste it.
Once I was in the grocery store buying lemons and an older gentleman asked me what I was making with them. I told him, and I had to repeat the recipe about three times so he could memorize it. Therefore, due to popular demand, I share the recipe.
Weightwatchers tip: make sure you measure your oil for portions and the cheese too. Serve your dressing on the side and dip your fork in it before you hit the green stuff. Save a ton of calories and still get a good taste of yummy dressing.
Tip: If you have a Trader Joe’s handy they have the best deal on anchovies on the planet. I buy ten tins at a time so I have them handy.
You will need: a tin of anchovies, trust me, you cannot taste them in the dressing but they make it so rich and flavorful it is amazing.
Garlic, how much is up to you. I use about four fat cloves and squish them in my amazing Garlic Press. Old school, metal. Good Will, 99 cents. If you haven’t investigated the cool cooking tools abandoned at Good Will you are missing a big boat kids.
I’m on the look out for a Mouli grater at the moment. Moulinex, the manufacturer, apparently doesn’t sell them in the USA now, so I keep looking at thrift stores.Those plastic ones break way too fast. I think my next entry should be a list of my cool tools acquired that way, with photographs to entice you to go shopping too.
Olive oil. The juices of two fat lemons or four baby ones. I use a citrus reamer to get the juice out. Amazingly useful thing. If you have a garbage disposal, run the lemon skins through it with hot water to clean the disposal and make the kitchen smell great. Lemon peels sprinkled with baking powder and salt will clean chrome and stainless steel too. So save the peels and scrub the sink before tossing.
Capers if you have them, don’t worry if you don’t. They just add a nice Piquant tang.
I have an itty bitty food processor, love it more than the great big one. Put the ingredients in the processor. Garlic, anchovies, lemon juice and start with about a 1/3 cup of oil.Push the button and blend the whole shooting match. Blending emulsifies it all and makes it wonderfully creamy. Take off the lid and taste. Too lemony? A little more oil, too oily? A little more lemon. This is so easy and so amazingly tasty I could probably eat just salad for every meal.
Get your salad ready. I love romaine for salads, its bears up well under the weight of dressings and has a great flavor too. Iceberg lettuce is useless, has no real food value and should be banned from anything but tacos where it is the traditional lettuce of choice.
I make my own croutons, generally a batch big enough for two or three meals. Get a baguette or other Italian style bread. Not soft white bread please. Cut it into cubes, big cubes about an 1 and 1/2 inches across. Heat about 1/2 cup olive oil and garlic in a big skillet or wok. Toss in the bread and use a spatula to toss it and get the olive oil on all the cubes. Toast the bread in the skillet, watch it because burnt garlic is heinous tasting. Salt the croutons, a nice flavor note is added with a little salt.
Yesterday I found a bag of tiny bread slices for $1.29 on the dead bread rack at the grocery store. Perfect. On its way to stale and fantastic for croutons. I kind of like the little slices too. I used mine to pile chicken on and had a salad sandwich in my bowl.
If you are on Weightwatchers, no croutons for you. Okay, you can have two. Dress your salad with enough of the dressing to coat the leaves lightly. Too much, soggy. Too little, dry salad. Leftover dressing can be refrigerated and used later.
Parmesan cheese, grate some fresh or use the deli case pre-grated kind. If you use dried parmesan in a bottle I will never speak to you again. My kids used to call that stinky foot cheese and put it on their canned ravioli as small kids. Ecch. Luckily, they have grown up to have grown up palates and reject cheese that comes in plastic bottles. Weightwatchers: leave out the cheese please or measure a small portion you can control.
Chuck in the cheese and croutons and toss. For dinner, we might have some gorgeous shrimp on top or a grilled chicken breast sliced up, (hint: wrap your chicken breasts in plastic and pound them flat so they’ll cook fast and evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pound it right it in to the meat.) or add a grilled salmon fillet. My vegetarian friends put in every raw vegie on the planet. A giant salad is my favorite meal in the world for a summer supper. I think I just made myself hungry….