I like salad. Maybe that makes me weird. But I like big salads piled high with tons of fun stuff like fruit or nuts or cheeses. I’m not so in to these strange newfangled salads that try to force you to like bitter greens by dousing them in odd dressing concoctions. I like good, wholesome, real salads.
Which is fortunate, I think, since I am trying to add more veggies to my diet. Salads these days have a tendency to have more calories and fat than some hamburgers, and fatty dressings like ranch are the usual culprit. It’s sad, because ranch is my favorite dressing, but cutting out needless, empty calories is part of my overall goal here recently. Goodbye ranch. Hello, balsamic vinaigrette.
I recently made a tomato, avocado, and spinach salad from a recipe which called for a homemade vinaigrette with toasted cumin and parsley. Why I endeavored to make a dressing with two ingredients I don’t really care for is beyond me, but I did it and I ate it and I didn’t like it. The cumin was overpowering, the parsley was too herby and the dressing was otherwise bland. I can do better, I thought. Simple is the way to go. I love avocado’s creaminess, so I thought a simpler dressing would help the components of the salad stand out a bit better on their own.
I was right. I whipped up a simple balsamic vinaigrette from scratch and have been enjoying it on salads for the last couple days. It is an Emeril Lagasse recipe, found here. The recipe is really basic: three parts oil to one part vinegar, plus seasonings. Shake it all together and let it sit overnight in the fridge to marry the flavors. It’s light and refreshing and not overpowering. I rooted around in my fridge and pantry and found baby spinach and butter lettuce, feta cheese, dried cranberries, chopped pecans, and some leftover rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. Plop it all in a bowl, douse it with some homemade dressing, and it’s the perfect spring salad.