Monday, May 26, 2008

Wanna Join the Dressing Game??

I realize I talk about the weather quite a bit. That’s because I have to endure mostly cold, usually unpredictable weather 8 of the 12 months. It’s something I’m still adjusting to, even though I’ve lived in the Northwest for 3 years (plus almost the same amount of time in DK). I grew up in the desert Southwest and the forecast was basically hot or really hot. If it rained, people would talk about it for days or even years. Same thing in sunny California where the day-to-day temperatures usually didn’t fluctuate more than a few degrees. But the weather up here is just weird, and Mother Nature is being particularly fickle this year. One day it’s 75 and sunny, then the next day we’re down to 52 and raining. We recently had 3 days of intense, almost miserable heat, and now we’re back down to the 60’s and raining. It’s the end of May and I’m afraid to pack away my winter clothes.

The two things I was looking forward to this spring is the return of warm weather (still waiting, but the coming week looks promising) and my local farmers' market. The market started in April, but the offerings have been limited. I think the cold spring we’ve had has taken a toll on the local farms. It doesn’t even seem like there are as may vendors this year. I hope they come back when the weather gets consistently warm. The only consolation is that the quality of the offerings is top notch. For the last 3 weekends I’ve been coming home with loads of wonderful lettuce, which means we’ve been eating salads instead of a proper vegetable with our meals. Sometimes we just eat salad. How's that for fast food?

With all the greenery we're eating, I'm looking for ways to keep it interesting. I’ve started playing a game of sorts where I try to come up with a different dressing every few days. I'd like to see how long I can go without buying a commercial dressing. Sonny even wanted to get in on it. He suggested we try making a Nutella dressing. Since we don’t have Nutella, it was easy enough to shoot down that idea. Instead we came up with a dressing using peanut butter and honey that we both could agree on. Thank goodness.

So, wanna join the dressing game? Got any good ideas? Please share them in the comments and link back to yourself so I can find it!

Have you ever seen such beautiful baby lettuce?

Peanut vinaigrette
makes about 1/2 cup
  • 1 tbs smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 3 to 4 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs thin soy sauce (regular soy sauce is fine)
  • 1 tsp curry powder or garam masala (use good quality, finely ground or the dressing will be gritty!)
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • about 1/3 cup peanut oil or other neutral oil (but not olive oil)
In a large bowl, whisk all the ingredients, except the peanut oil, until smooth. Taste the mixture. Adjust the flavor according to your taste. Then slowly add the oil while whisking vigorously to incorporate it. You may not need to add all the oil. Taste after 1/4 cup and if it's okay to you, you're done!

We've had this dressing a few times: atop baby lettuce with grilled beef; as a dressing for cold soba noodles; as a dip for crudites.

If you're looking for some tasty ways to dress your greens, you may be interested in this spicy Caesar dressing or this tangy dressing for the classic Chinese-American chicken salad.


VCK said...

Wow, your dressings are way more involved than mine. My favorite dressing at home is:
*Put some good-quality mustard into a bowl (pick some up at the farmers' market! The Monastery Mustard,, is great and has lots of different flavors that will end up making your dressing a different flavor). You can also just use honey mustard or dijon. Whatever floats your boat.
*Add S&P
*Add some vinegar--Again, you can vary it up thousands of ways here. My standby is balsamic, but I have some pear in the cupboard and I already used up my fig. They also have some nice vinegars at the PFM.
*Whisk in olive oil 'til it's the consistency you want it.

Voila! That's it!

QGIRL said...

Thanks for your kind comment on my blog yesterday!
I am a novice at cooking but I enjoy it and especially love to shop the markets for fresh produce.
Lately I have been into spring radishes. This is the Japanese style dressing that use for my salads using radishes.
1/4 c. soy
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. sugar.
Mix it all up and serve on a salad with green garlic, lettuce, radishes and anything else you want to add.
Keep posting your great recipe ideas, love reading them! And I love your posts about Italy. My hubby & I were married in Positano, we love Italy!

dp said...

vck, thanks for the link to the mustard. I will check it out.

qgirl, thanks for the dressing recipe. It sounds like something that would also taste good on soba noodles.

My regret is not being able to travel up the amalfi coast. I bet Positano is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I can already taste the dressing. Yum. Well it's the beginning of the season where we're seeing pea tendrils, rhubarb, rapini, asparagus, and cardoons. I can't wait for the tomatoes, chilis, berries, cherries, and peaches later on. That's when our local farmers clean house. I haven't been to the FM this year but I'm sure there's a lot of flowers being sold currently.

Dee said...

james, I go to the Hollywood market because it's closer to me. There's a strawberry stand that sold out by 10AM! I saw pea tendrils last year and but never bought them. I am growing snap peas this year, and just took the tendrils from my backyard. they are quite tasty and saved me a little money.

tigerfish said...

Love this peanut dressing! Should be good in some cold noodles too!

Jason said...

Here is my favorite dressing...simple but super yummy. And yes, I completely agree this year has been very dismal weather wise, tomorrow is forecasted sunny, I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Love the rain in Portland, but I'm ready for some sun!

Jason's House Dressing
1/3 Cup Rice Vinegar (seasoned)
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper

I also substitute the vinegar with lime juice and use it as a nice tangy dressing and a marinade for chicken!

Norm Schoen said...

I just came across your blog. Nice to see another Portlander as well. You should also check out my friend Heather a
I think you might like her cooking (plus she has a wicked sense of humor).

Dressing Game-

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup Olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 smashed garlic cloves (leave un-chopped)
Pinch Kosher Salt
Crack of Black Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a tight sealing pint jar and shake

dp said...

Thanks everyone for sharing! It's nice to know other people are making their own dressings too! Something so simple yet so many people continue to buy it.

Norm, thanks for the link. I definitely want to support other local bloggers!