When the weather turns cold, I find myself making a lot of soups and stews. But, once the weather gets warmer, and especially in the heat of summer, I can’t eat too many salads. Everyone knows a salad is always much better prepared by someone else! If I have a good dressing on hand, then the rest is easy. In fact, knowing I have a great dressing available in the fridge makes me think of creative ingredients to bring a great salad together.
Personally, I like vinaigrettes on dark leaf lettuces and creamy dressings on light leaf lettuces. Think of a nice balsamic vinaigrette on a bed of spring mix and an iceberg wedge with ranch, bleu cheese crumbles and bacon. Both are equally yummy, but creamy ranch on spring mix would simply weigh it down.
This brings me to today’s recipe: Basil Salad Dressing. This recipe was given to me by my good friend (and neighbor) Lisa, when we lived in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s a little tart, a little garlicky, a little sweet and a whole lot of basily freshness. It works equally well with a spring mix or even romaine or butter leaf lettuce. You could even get a little crazy and throw in some arugula, because the peppery arugula balances beautifully with the basil dressing.
Admittedly, salads I make at home tend to follow a pattern. This isn’t some well-thought-out philosophy of salad building—I’ve just noticed it’s what I usually do. The more toppings, the more the likelihood that someone in my family will be picking things off, so I usually keep it simple.
Of course, there’s the lettuce and the dressing, which I toss and plate before adding the salad toppings, so that people aren’t spilling salad all over the place trying to mix in the dressing. Then, I usually include a something soft (dried or fresh fruit, cherry tomatoes, black olives), something crunchy (nuts, croutons, sunflower seeds) and a crumbled cheese. For example, I like to pair dried cherries, walnuts and gorgonzola. Then there’s sliced pear, spicy pecans the spicy and sweet pecans at Trader Joe’s are amazing) and goat cheese. Or, try mandarin orange slices, toasted sliced almonds and bleu cheese. The possibilities are endless! Lisa adds pear, walnuts and feta. One thing is certain: this basil dressing goes equally well with all those combinations and more.
This recipe couldn’t be simpler: just add all ingredients into a blender and blend well. Keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least a week.
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 3/4 c. fresh basil, packed
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. pepper
- 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- Blend in blender or food processor until smooth.