Thursday, April 10, 2008

Back to basics (sort of): a great green salad

I’m taking us back to basics today.

This was one of the first recipes I shared when I started blogging and it’s still one that I use all the time. It’s the secret to a wonderful green salad, and it features one of my three favorite go-to homemade salad dressings.

Sure, most of the time I just drizzle a little olive oil and vinegar on my salad. I add a little lemon juice if I have it. That’s it. And that’s pretty good.

But, I discovered a little trick that only adds one more step and turns a typical salad dressing into a fabulous one: shallots.

A couple of years a go, Saveur printed an article on David Tanis and Randal Breski and shared a few of their recipes. David Tanis and his partner, Randal, operate an occasional “dinner club” in Paris in their 17th century apartment called Aux Chiens Lunatiques (''At the Crazy Dogs' Place''). It’s occasional, because they run the club for six months out of the year, and during the other six months, the pair re-locate to Berkeley California, where Tanis is the head chef at Chez Panisse. What a gig! (you can read more about them in a New York Times article here)

I love the idea of an occasional restaurant in someone’s home (no less at the Parisian outpost of a well-respected chef!) and the dream of the interesting and eclectic fellow diners one might find. When my husband and I were last in Paris I attempted to reserve at Aux Chiens Lunatiques only to find that I had hit the wrong six months. Needless to say, I will try to plan better next time!

Back to recipe. There are a few tips Tanis shared for a great green salad:

1. Wash the greens by gently swishing them in a baisin filled with cold water
2. Drain them and then dry them by gently rolling them in a clean dish towel. Tanis says salad spinners damage tender greens (which I've noticed too).
3. Don’t forget to season the greens with salt and pepper
4. After dressing, toss the salad gently (he recommends using your hands)

The secret to the vinaigrette is the chemical reaction that occurs between the vinegar, shallots and salt. It produces a very flavorful vinegary, tangy dressing that is addictive! Here’s the formula:

Mince one shallot into a tablespoon of vinegar in a bowl, add half a teaspoon of salt and let the mixture steep together for ten minutes. Whisk in about 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Drizzle just enough dressing over the leaves to make the leaves glisten (roughly a tablespoon for five or six cups of greens). Grind some fresh black pepper over greens.

Give it a try . . .

p.s. As an aside, I am the very honored nominee (with two other great bloggers) of the Inspiring Food Photography award for this month. It's a reader-voted award hosted by Coffee and Vanilla. The polls are open now and voting closes at the end of the month. Please check it out and cast your vote!

11 comments:

Peter G said...

Beautiful Sabra! Hw easy is it to mince the shallots and add them into the dressing. Will definitely give this a go.

noobcook said...

I was surfing for beautiful-looking food blogs and found yours! The photos are stunning... I voted for you for IFP... all the best! ;)

Aran said...

This is absolutely gorgeous! The story makes me want to be a nomad again and live here six months, there six months... the recipe so refreshing and the photos... my goodness, just stunning!!! Great job!!!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Your photos always make my jaw drop. Stunning!

Amy said...

Yum! My life changed when I learned how to make a good basic vinaigrette -- thanks for the great recipe (and *beautiful* photos!)

Annemarie said...

I love the sound (and the name of) the temporary restaurant, too. Wonderful picture and what a set of chopsticks - you're a very deserving nominee for all the pictures you do.

Dayna said...

Great shot.
Very clean, fresh and delicious. I'm really loving your photos lately!

Tartelette said...

The picture is beautiful. I got me inspired to experiment shooting from high up. The salad is lovely!

PheMom said...

Beautiful pictures of a beautiful salad. So awesome!

Lynnylu said...

Congratulations on your DMBLGIT win.

Sunshine said...

Here we are, almost a year later...has no one asked what your other two 'go to' salad dressings are? Please share......

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