This is a guest post from our friend Adam Ried. Adam has created some great recipes for us like Strawberry-Rhubarb Sprtizer, Warm Mulled Cranberry-Vanilla Cider, and Avocado, Sardine, and Veggie Sandwiches. Adam’s new cookbook is all about salad dressings. We’re asked him to share some of his new creations with us. Learn more about Adam and order Best Dressed here.
What food would you want to eat every day for the rest of your life? I’ll be honest… for me, the first answer is cake (seriously…. cake is my favorite). But a second answer leaps to mind almost as fast – salad!
And if it ever came right down to it, I’d go with the salad for sure. Of course it’s healthier than cake, but just as important, I would never get bored with salad. The variety is limited only by your imagination, ranging from a simple bowlful of lettuce dressed with olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to any combination of fresh veggies, cooked veggies, beans, grains, proteins and dressing your heart could desire. That’s a lot of culinary territory!
Of course fresh, flavorful ingredients are key for any good salad, but I think it’s the dressing that really seals the deal. The dressing pulls together the different components, defines the salad’s character, sends it in one ethnic direction or another (or none), and complements the ingredients so they’ll taste their best.
I love to experiment with different dressings, and that’s the idea behind my new book, Best Dressed, co-authored with my great friend (and awesome cook) Dawn Yanagihara. Best Dressed presents fifty imaginative dressing (and topping) recipes organized into three chapters: Bright, Bold, and Rich. Bright dressings sparkle with fresh, vibrant flavors and tastebud-tingling acidity (think vinegar and citrus juices, like lemon, lime and orange). Bold dressings use strong ingredients like olives or ginger to pack in a lot of flavor, and rich dressings are just as they sound—sumptuous with ingredients like avocado or buttermilk, and often a smooth, velvety consistency. Each recipe offers suggestions for salad combinations and fun extra enhancements, for, as the book’s tagline promises, “endless salad inspiration.” If you’re like me, you are always open to new ideas and inspirations – for the salad bowl, and otherwise!
Here are two easy recipes, one for a citrus, honey and rosemary vinaigrette, which is great on any type of lettuce, sliced fresh fennel, and roasted sweet potatoes and root vegetables, and one for rustic croutons, which are baked, crunchy cubes of bread that are terrific to garnish practically any simple salad (or bowl of soup), and even as a snack on their own.
Citrus, Honey, and Rosemary Vinaigrette
MAKES ABOUT 2⁄3 CUP [160 ML]
With an eye toward a subtle rosemary presence in this vinaigrette, we use just a little rosemary and call the immersion blender to duty to really batter it, to maximize its fragrance and flavor. Floral sweetness from the honey, resinous tones from the rosemary, and bright citrus notes harmonize into a balanced vinaigrette that complements every type of lettuce.
Note: Immersion blenders are sometimes called stick blenders. Definitely get some help from your adult when you use one, especially if you have never used one before.
1 1⁄2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 1⁄2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1⁄2 tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 11⁄2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp minced shallot
1⁄3 cup [80 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
In the beaker of an immersion blender, combine the vinegar, honey, rosemary, orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1⁄2 tsp salt, 1⁄4 tsp pepper, and olive oil. Purée until the rosemary is broken down and fragrant and the vinaigrette is smooth. Add the shallot and stir to combine. Let stand to allow the flavors to meld, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Briskly stir to recombine just before using.
MAKES ABOUT 6 CUPS [210 G]
Fresh bread makes great croutons; lightly stale bread gives them a more resilient crunch, but don’t overdo it by using really stale bread. Choose a hearty white loaf with a dense, chewy crumb. Beyond that, use whatever type appeals to you—French, Italian, country white, peasant, or sourdough are just a few of the possibilities.
Note:Get some help from your adult with cutting the crust off the bread, and keep a close eye on the croutons as they bake—the timing varies with different types of bread and how dry it may be.
12 oz [340 g] hearty French, Italian, country white, peasant, or sourdough bread, crusts trimmed, and bread torn into roughly 1-in [2.5-cm] pieces
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C].
In a large bowl, toss the bread, olive oil, and 1⁄2 tsp salt until all the bread is lightly coated with oil. On a baking sheet, spread the bread in an even layer. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until the pieces are deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. The croutons will crisp up as they cool.
*Recipes adapted and reprinted with permission from Best Dressed by Dawn Yanagihara and Adam Ried, photographs by Nicole Franzen, Chronicle Books (2016).