Another crisp fall day in Montana where the air is cool and the sun shines through the scattered high clouds. Cool enough where you want to hurry inside. The perfect day for soup and salad and visiting with friends. It is so warming to see friends gather at our little cafe and enjoy our food while talking and laughing and just spending time with each other over good and healthy real food. Salad is about as real as it gets....most of it consists of super fresh ingredients, crispy lettuce, fresh vegetables and nuts or seeds tossed with that wonderful combo of oil and vinegar and herbs...so satisfying!
When I was younger my mom would sometimes make a big salad on Sundays. You might not think of salad as comfort food but those memories of a fresh and delicious big plate of salad are wonderful to me. She would put together a mix of hard boiled eggs, avocado, fresh peas, onions, sprouts, mushrooms, bacon, sunflower seeds and cheddar cheese - and of course served with a big chunk of Italian bread. Even today I often crave just a big full salad as my meal. Especially when the weather gets cooler and we ready for winters arrival, I appreciate eating all those fresh ingredients. Eating salad gives me good energy and satisfies me without making me too full.
And as for the dressing...salad needs homemade dressing. The store bought bottle just doesn’t do it. I have been making my balsamic vinaigrette for over twenty years and it is pretty foolproof and will stay in the fridge for weeks so that you can whip together a salad and make it taste fabulous with a dressing you made from scratch with no sugars or preservatives.
My balsamic vinaigrette is easy to make and adds depth and flavor to any salad. Just remember to use good quality ingredients. You don’t have to spend a fortune but do start with better oil and vinegar. I really like California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil and good Balsamic Vinegar from Modena Italy. Also, fresh herbs are great if you have them but dried herbs work fine. And there is no need to get hung up on having all the herbs that I mention in the recipe. Really, the best herbs are the ones you have on hand. And you can choose which herb flavor combinations you like best. Make it your own and enjoy a big healthy wonderful salad this Sunday or any day.
Mrs. Wonderful's Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp minced shallot
1tsp chopped parsley
1/4 tsp chopped sage
1/4 tsp chopped thyme
1/4 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp lemon juice
Mrs. Wonderful sea salt herb blend to taste (about 1/4 tsp)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Start with balsamic vinegar, add garlic, shallot, and fresh herbs. (Any fresh herbs you have on hand will work for this recipe, you don't have to use the ones listed here. Also, in a pinch, Mrs. Wonderful's sea salt herb blend by itself will work fine if you don't have any herbs at all). Mix in dijon, slowly drizzle in olive oil while stirring with a small whisk. Mix until well emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lastly, mix in fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor.