Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Salad Days of Summer

In the height of summer here in Seattle, we’re enjoying the many flavors of salads, fresh from the garden or farmer’s markets. Here is an excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Country Living about salad, along with a sampling of Carla Emery’s homemade salad dressing recipes.

Salad Making
In season we have salad every day. I send the children out to the garden to cut lettuce and pull a few green onions. My mother taught me to tear the lettuce with my fingers for the salad rather than cut it. So I tear it into pieces after washing and patting it dry inside a fuzzy towel. (Not all the way dry, of course, but near enough.) Then I add the young green onions, chopped fine; radishes, sliced thin; and dressing. Or grated peeled turnip. Some grated cabbage or carrot, too, or beets if I feel like it and have the vegetables. I use the part of the grater that makes long thin slivers.

A combination of different kinds of leaf lettuce, fresh from the garden, is delicious and full of vitamins. And you can add so many different things: chunks of garden tomato or grated green peppers, chopped green onion, or grated carrot. For salad dressing I usually make a mixture of two-thirds salad oil and one-third vinegar, and then add salt and garlic salt. For fancier dressings I add a little lemon juice, pepper, or a pinch of dry mustard. If you add any kind of seafood, pour on some lemon juice and use a mayonnaise dressing.

Homemade Salad Dressings

Two-Quarts Salad Dressing Mix together 1 qt. buttermilk and 1 qt. mayonnaise. Use wire whip or spoon, not a blender. Add 1 T. salt, 1⁄2 t. garlic powder, 1 T. dry onion (or fresh), 1⁄2 t. pepper, 1 T. dried parsley, 1⁄2 t. dry mustard, dash of red pepper, 1 T. chopped capers, and 1⁄2 t. celery salt. Stir to mix well. Keep in refrigerator.

Blue Cheese Dressing Add 3 or 4 oz. blue cheese and 1 T. lemon juice to 1 cup of Two-Quarts Salad Dressing (see preceding recipe).

French Dressing This is our quick and easy, favorite dressing on fresh garden lettuce. Wash about 1 qt. lettuce and pat dry inside a towel. Tear into pieces. Mix 1⁄4 c. oil, 1 T. vinegar, about 1 T. lemon juice, 1⁄3 t. salt, and 1⁄2 t. garlic salt. Toss with lettuce and serve. q Low-Cal Garden French Dressing Puree together 1⁄2 c. tomato juice, 2 T. lemon juice, 1 T. onion, 1 T. green pepper, 1 T. honey, 1⁄4 t. salt, a pinch pepper, and 1 clove garlic. Chill at least an hour.

Classy Italian Dry Mix
for Salad Dressing You can make this ahead of time and then mix for your salad as needed. Combine 1⁄3 c. any grated dry cheese and 1 T. each of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, celery seeds, and sesame seeds. Optional: Add other herbs or dry mustard. Mix well and store airtight.
To make a salad, combine 1 T. of your Classy Mix with 1⁄4 c. vinegar and 1⁄2 c. oil. For a low-calorie dressing, leave out the oil. Or combine 1 T. mix with 1⁄4 c. mayonnaise, 1⁄4 c. unflavored yogurt, or 1⁄4 c. sour cream. For more of a salad dressing consistency, add 2 T. water and shake energetically in a covered container.

If you want to eat raw greens other than lettuce, I recommend a wilted lettuce dressing because they are mostly on the strong side. I use lettuce for green salads and cook other greens.

Wilted Lettuce Dressing My mother’s regular salad dressing was wilted lettuce dressing. That’s because she had lard but not oil, and this is one kind of salad dressing that uses lard. It’s a delicious salad dressing, one that you can vary in many ways. You can fry bacon or side meat to get your lard and then crumble the bacon or cooked meat bits into the salad. That’s the best tasting. But you can also start out with straight lard. I usually thicken my wilted lettuce dressing with egg yolks. If you make a small amount of dressing, it doesn’t actually wilt the lettuce; it just dresses it. If you make a lot and pour it over hot, it does wilt the lettuce, but it tastes good that way too.
Use about 1 lb. greens. This is great for any greens, including the stronger, tougher ones like New Zealand spinach. Wash and pat dry. Fry about 5 slices bacon that have been cut into little pieces. (You can use lard or any other oil, if you don’t have bacon or do like lard.) Take out the bacon and all the grease but about 2 T. Add 3 T. vinegar and 2 T. sour cream. Blend 1 t. flour with an egg (not in a blender) and stir into pan mixture. Add 1⁄2 t. salt and 1 T. sugar or the equivalent in honey. When the salad dressing is thickened and is boiling hot, pour it over your greens. Add crumbled bacon, toss a moment to mix, and serve immediately. This dressing has to be poured hot on the lettuce or it doesn’t taste right. Serve immediately. You can enrich with mustard and onion salt. It’s also good on leaf lettuce (as opposed to head lettuce).

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