Tuesday, March 26, 2013

spring greens with homemade vinaigrette

to celebrate spring, the folks at food network have transitioned from our weekly comfort food feast recipe roundup to a spring themed event called "sensational sides mixed with spring produce".  the objective is to write about spring produce but to give us a bit of flexibility to account for regional differences in the growing season. 

i have never been more aware of these differences then this year when i moved to taos, new mexico.  how spoiled i was living my entire life in california.  there, by now, many of my favorite spring vegetables are popping up in markets.  roadside stands are beginning to open..  i was in southern california last week and the seal beach strawberry patch is selling beautiful, sweet, delicious local berries.  in taos, the snow has just melted and everywhere you look it is brown...dirt, grass, trees...nothing is greening up yet.  so, shopping locally is much, much more of a challenge.

happily, there is a year round farmer's market called red willow farm which is a cooperative of growers from the pueblo.  they use a system of heating greenhouses to grow their produce throughout the winter.  this means i can get local, organic greens even when the temperatures are below zero.  it is a challenge to buy/eat locally in the winter...but, happily, not impossible.  read more about red willow growers here. 

i love greens and eat them all year.  i try to live by the mantra of "only in season...only local" produce. one of my pet peeves is when people buy truly great salad ingredients and then dress them with horrible dressings filled with inferior ingredients and preservatives. when was the last time you read the label of most commercial bottled dressings? making your own is so easy and only requires 4 steps:

1. put your favorite vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar
2. screw on lid and shake away
3. add to salad
4. eat and enjoy

meyer lemon vinaigrette
it really is that easy. buy a mason jar at the market...even better and "greener"...reuse a jam/jelly or any other screw top jar. plan to make small quantities, just enough to use that night. keep the best-quality-you-can find/afford extra virgin olive oils, vinegars, mustard and seasonings in your pantry and experiment with your oil to vinegar ratios. there really is no "wrong" way. it is just a matter of personal preference. for example, most recipes call for 3-4 times oil to vinegar. i adore vinegar so my recipes are more 2-1. (for oil and balsamic vinegar vinaigrette i use 50-50!) but that is me. the simplest recipe and the one i use the most is equal parts extra virgin olive and balsamic vinegar, with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.  i have a huge collection of vinegars so i sometime switch out the balsamic with red wine, champagne, sherry, rice or apple cider vinegar. (oh...and since this blog is about spicy foods...try adding minced jalapeno to the meyer lemon vinaigrette...wonderful! otherwise, these greens can help cool down the hottest foods)

balsamic & mustard vinaigrette
1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
place all vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar. cover tightly and shake until well blended. store remaining vinaigrette in refrigerator. bring to room temperature before using to allow oil to mix with other ingredients.

meyer lemon vinaigrette
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar or sparkling wine vinegar
1 tsp meyer lemon zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
try these on your favorite salads. use whatever greens you have on hand.  i like to mix salad greens with spinach, baby kale, chopped chard or other "dark" greens for added nutrients and flavor. dress lightly..toss..season..enjoy! and eat more salad.
do you already make your own salad dressings? if so, please share your recipes in the comments section of this post..

it is "things found in the pantry" week at food network's "sensational sides mixed with spring produce" . check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends:
Feed Me Phoebe: Tropical Trail Mix With Ginger and Coconut The Cultural Dish: Green Bean Salad
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Easy Roasted Tomatoes and Spring Asparagus
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pizza With Kale-Walnut Pesto, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pickled Garlic
Red or Green?: Spring Greens With Homemade Vinaigrette
The Sensitive Epicure: Pasta alla Ghetto Fabuloso (Gluten-Free and Milk-Free)
Dishin & Dishes: Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
Haute Apple Pie: Broccoli Cheesy Rice
Made By Michelle: Broccoli Quiche With Homemade Bisquick
FN Dish: Pantry-Friendly, Budget-Friendly Side Dish Recipes

my best,
red or green
napa farmhouse 1885

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