My husband jokes that I was never one of those girls — the kind that orders only a small salad on a date and barely pick at it.
Oh no, I always ordered heartily and lustily. I never made a secret of my boundless appetite.
That’s not to say I don’t eat salad or appreciate them. Because I surely do.
They are such a creative canvas for all manner of greens, grains, garnishes and dressings. And their emphasis on fresh veggies speaks to the California gal in me.
“Best Dressed” (Chronicle Books) is just the book for a salad lover like me. The new cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is by Adam Ried, the Boston Globe Magazine cooking columnist; and Dawn Yanagihara, a former test-kitchen director and senior director for Cook’s Illustrated.
Inside, you’ll find 35 recipes for dressings, 10 for toppings, and 10 for composed salads. The composed salad recipes will give you new ideas for combinations such as “Roasted Carrot, Broccolini, and Chicken Salad with Tahini, Lemon and Harissa Dressing” and “Grilled Steak and Radicchio Salad with Asian Pear and Pinot Noir Vinaigrette.”
The toppings run the gamut from “Thyme-Scented Roast Chickpeas” to “Savory Granola” to add extra crunch and flavor to any salad.
And the dressing recipes allow you to easily whip up a homemade batch in a flash. Each comes with tips on ingredients to pair with it, so you can free-form your own salad on the spot with your just-made dressing.
That’s what I did with the “Citrus, Honey, and Rosemary Vinaigrette” recipe, which I was inspired to make because of the rosemary plants growing on my front porch. Accented with orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, the dressing is mixed with an immersion blender. It is worth the extra minute to dig out your immersion blender to do this, too, because it creates a really creamy dressing the color of sunshine.
I hunted in my fridge veggie drawer to toss together chopped radicchio, radishes, fresh tangerine segments, celery, and a green onion, then dressed it all with the vinaigrette before sprinkling on some chopped Marcona almonds.
The result was a bright tasting dressing full of citrus flavor and forest-y rosemary. It made for a fancy tasting salad as good as any at a restaurant. Yet I made it in mere minutes at home with items I already had in the house.
It doesn’t get better than that.
Citrus, Honey, and Rosemary Vinaigrette
(Makes about 2/3 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot
In the beaker of an immersion blender, combine the vinegar, honey, rosemary, orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and olive oil. Puree until the rosemary is broken down and fragrant and the vinaigrette is smooth. Add the shallot and stir to combine. Let stand to allow the flavors to meld, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Briskly stir to recombine just before using.
Serve on: Any type of lettuce, mesclun, escarole, endive, fennel, summer squash, roasted root vegetables (beets, carrots, parsnips), roasted sweet potatoes.
Extras to add: Roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, pears, figs, grapes, orange, grapefruit, fresh goat cheese, Petit Basque cheese, Manchego cheese.
From “Best Dressed” by Dawn Yanagihara and Adam Ried
More Salad Dressings to Try: Oregano Vinaigrette