I'm not sure what she's like at home, but Muppet's best friend Riley is a salad fiend when she joins us for dinner. It's not that we make very fancy salads here, in fact most nights we just dish up a simply dressed pre-made mesclun mix from the market. Still every time she visits, Riley goes on and on about how much she enjoys the greenery. The key she says is the dressing, and once I told her that it was homemade she has made a point of asking me to teach her the recipe every time she stops by for chow.
I don't know about all of you but it's a rare ocassion that I reach for a commercially made salad dressing, always preferring to craft one "a-la-minute" as needed. While there are a few different dressings I make, most nights I turn to this basic French vinaigrette to get the job done and it never disappoints. It is a simple blend of a great dijon mustard (I use Maille from France), fresh shallots, sherry vinegar, EVOO, a pinch of salt and pepper, and some freshly minced herbs, usually chives and thyme. Make this, and when lightly tossed on fresh, crisp greens you'll be immediately transported to a small café in France, just ask Riley she'll tell you. I usually make enough for a few night's worth of salads because even though this is a cinch to put together, even I don't care to be doing it every night especially when it stays tasty and fresh for up to a week in the fridge.
As luck would have it, my friends at OXO just tossed another giveaway treat my way, and it is the perfect kitchen tool with which to craft your own delicious dressings. As with all things OXO, their new Salad Dressing Shaker takes an old gadget concept and re-works it to perform flawlessly and with style. Hey, I'm the last guy that needs another kitchen gizmo (ask my lovely wife, she'll tell you), but every time I get something new from OXO I'm thrilled. Why? Because they work the way you've always wanted your kitchen tools to work, with no apologies for poor design.
Take this Salad Dressing Shaker for instance. Unlike the numerous cruets in my collection that it will replace, this baby has a screw-off, wide-opening top which not only accommodates a wide range of ingredients, but allows for easy cleaning. It also has a watertight, leak proof seal as opposed to the cruet's silly little glass stoppers that inevitably sail across the room just as I get a good shaker rhythm going….ugh. Finally, this lovely is good for more than just making salad dressing, in fact I can totally see using it to shake up my favorite summer drink, a Basil-Vodka Gimlet!
Hey Riley, if you happen to be out there reading this post (and I hope you are), what do you say you keep your shaking to dressings for a few more years, huh? No gimlet shakin' for you, girlfriend!
For those of you interested in winning one of these way-cool (not even yet on the market) OXO Shakers, leave a comment to this post by Friday, May 25th telling me what you would use the shaker for, and I'll randomly choose a winner to be announced on Sunday, the 27th. Good Luck!
Cheers – Steve
- 1 teaspoon good quality dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
- 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh thyme leaves
- 6 tablespoons good quality EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper
- Place the mustard, chopped shallots, salt and pepper, and vinegar in the shaker, swirl to mix then let sit for a few minutes. Letting the shallots sit in the vinegar for a bit allows the acid to "cook" the shallots a touch, lessening their bite.
- Add the oil and fresh herbs, hold the lid of the shaker tightly closed and shake vigorously to emulsify the mix. If you don't use a shaker, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until emulsified.
- Pour sparingly over fresh greens, toss gently and taste for seasoning adding more vinaigrette or salt and pepper to taste. Go easy and add the dressing slowly, there is nothing worse than an overdressed salad....am I right?