Recipe Corner : HOW TO DRESS A SALAD

Chilean navel orange, Mexican jicama, red sweet pepper, arugula on bib lettuce – an elegant salad simply dressed with a bit of salt. Served with white tuna fillet, stuffed with spinach, mushroom and shrimp, seasoned with leek and garlic, in a white wine and garlic sauce; and Mediterranean brown and wild rice. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Chilean navel orange, Mexican jicama, red sweet pepper, arugula on bib lettuce – an elegant salad simply dressed with a bit of salt. Served with white tuna fillet, stuffed with spinach, mushroom and shrimp, seasoned with leek and garlic, in a white wine and garlic sauce; and Mediterranean brown and wild rice. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Sara, quick. Can you lend me the phone please? I have a recipe emergency!

I had received a facebook chat from a friend:

 

I’m going to my aunt’s for lunch today. … I told her I would prepare the salad we had on Sunday: spinach with mango, white onion and sweet pepper.

The dressing is soy sauce, vinegar, honey and a little mustard?

The phone number at auntie’s is xxx-xxxx. I think we’ll be eating about 1.

But at any rate, that’s the dressing I’m going to make.

 

I looked at the computer’s clock. It was going on 11 a.m. I should be able to catch her before she begins to prepare the dressing. My taste buds can’t even begin imagining that combination! Oh, gosh, what a ….

I try the aunt’s number. No answer. I try my friend’s phone at home. No answer. Bloody heck. Her cell number. And I reach her before the culinary crime could be committed ….

The small, round limón (Citrus aurantifolia) commonly used in Latin American cuisine is the prized Key lime. To confuse matters even more, the fruit known as lemon in English is called lima in much of Latin America. photo © Lorraine Caputo

The small, round limón (Citrus aurantifolia) commonly used in Latin American cuisine is the prized Key lime. To confuse matters even more, the fruit known as lemon in English is called lima in much of Latin America. photo © Lorraine Caputo

In Latin America, tossed salads are frequently dressed simply with limón (key lime) and salt. In the tropics, this is a refreshing way to top off fresh vegetables – and gives an added boost of Vitamin C.

Occasionally, though, a more elegant dressing may be called for. Go to the supermarket and you’ll go into economic shock: A bottle of commercial dressing costs around $3 US. That’s a hefty blow to a budget traveler’s wallet.

Homemade dressings are simple to make though. Whisk the ingredients with a fork in a cup, or use an empty jar. Your dinner will soon have a touch of finesse.

It all begins with the basic vinaigrette. The age-old rule of thumb is 3 tablespoons of oil to 1 tablespoon of vinegar. To this are added herbs, spices and other accoutrements.

However, the gastronomic magazine Bon Appetit disputes the classic ratio, stating that additional ingredients like mustard or anchovies shift the balance between the taste of oil and vinegar. It promotes the ultimate guide: your taste buds.

I prefer my dressings to be a bit less oily, and more acidic – a cleanness to allow the flavors of the fixings to spring from the plate. But let your tongue be YOUR guide!

¡Buen Provecho!


 

ORIENTAL DRESSING

This is the dressing my friend wanted to prepare for her aunt’s luncheon engagement. It’s my preferred dressing for a spinach-fruit salad.

 

Salad Fixings

2 handfuls of spinach

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 small red sweet pepper, thinly sliced

1 large mango, cut into chunks

¼ cup fresh beet root, peeled and grated (optional)

Wash the spinach well. Trim off the stem. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Toss in the other ingredients.

Note: Instead of mango, you may use strawberries (well washed!), kiwi fruit, pear, mandarina (tangerine) or other fruit.

 

Dressing

3 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

pinch of red pepper flakes

½ inch of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely minced

scant teaspoon of sugar

pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients together. Adjust to taste.

Note: Ground ginger may be used in place of the fresh ginger.

 

 

HONEY-MUSTARD DRESSING

This is another of my friend’s favorite dressings – and undoubtedly confused this recipe with the other, creating what undoubtedly would have been a very interesting gastronomic adventure!

This dressing is perfect for any type of tossed salad – or as a dip for fried chicken fingers.

 

3 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

      —or— 2 tablespoons white vinegar + juice of 1 limón (or of half a large lemon)

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Mix the ingredients together. Adjust to taste.

Spinach, onion, green pepper and tomato salad, with Italian Dressing. Served with homemade chopped chicken liver sandwiches. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Spinach, onion, green pepper and tomato salad, with Italian Dressing. Served with homemade chopped chicken liver sandwiches. photo © Lorraine Caputo

ITALIAN DRESSING

The classic Italian-style vinaigrette is the best way to dress a salad to accompany pastas.

 

3 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 clove garlic, finely minced

½ teaspoon basil

½ teaspoon oregano

pinch of red pepper flakes

scant ½ teaspoon sugar

pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients together. Adjust to taste.

 

Water purification drops can also be used to make your vegies and fruits safe to eat raw. Follow the instructions given on the bottle. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Water purification drops can also be used to make your vegies and fruits safe to eat raw. Follow the instructions given on the bottle. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Tips

  • Lettuce and spinach as well as vegetables / fruits that cannot be peeled can be made safe for eating by soaking them in a chlorine or silver iodine solution. Bottles of such preparations (like Microdyn in Mexico, or Star-Bac in Ecuador) can be bought in supermarkets or pharmacies. Follow the directions on the bottle. Plain (unperfumed) chlorine bleach may also be used.
  • Tear the lettuce and other greens, instead of cutting them with a knife. This allows them to capture the dressing better.
  • Feel free to experiment with the basic vinaigrette. Want a French flair? Add fines herbes (parsley, thyme, tarragon and chervil) to the oil and vinegar. For an avocado salad, add limón juice, cilantro and a touch of ground cumin to the vinaigrette.
  • Make your salad attractive. Include a variety of colors. Cut the vegetables into different shapes: matchsticks, circles, etc. Mix textures and flavors, like creamy, mild avocado with crunchy, piquant radishes.
  • Worried about having to buy the ingredients? Take a look at the stuff other travelers have left behind in the hostel’s kitchen – you might be mightily surprised at what you’ll find! (Of course, be sure to ask the hostel staff before you use any foodstuffs from the kitchen – it might, after all, be their stash!)
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One thought on “Recipe Corner : HOW TO DRESS A SALAD

  1. Pingback: Recipe Corner : POTATOES AND CHEESE – latin america wanderer

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