With all that basil we picked up last week, we made a batch of pesto. We love it: it tastes great, it’s easy to make, and it uses a lot of basil, all in one whack. That also means that we have to find ways to use the pesto, which fortunately is pretty easy. We often have it as a spread for sandwiches, or sometimes tossed with pasta, but this time we thought we’d make up a quick vinaigrette dressing for salad.
Even before we were really dedicated to making all our food from scratch, we almost always made our own salad dressing, simply because it’s so easy. Basically, you put everything into a small bowl — we use a measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring — and whisk. Once whisked, pour over your salad. That’s it. It’s the same with this dressing, except you need to have some pesto already made.
Fortunately for you, we’ve done a number of different kinds of pesto, so you can check them out and make one yourself. For this dressing, we used a pesto we made from basil, pistachios, and Gruyère cheese (and garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper, of course), but any pesto will be fine. Oh, if you don’t make your own pesto, you’re really missing out.
Use a good extra-virgin olive oil. It should have flavor. Lots of flavor, and a good flavor to boot. It might taste grassy, or peppery, but shouldn’t taste musty or bland. If it’s musty, it’s not good olive oil; if it tastes bland, it’s not extra-virgin olive oil. We use olive oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill, because we like it. For the vinegar, we really can’t recommend a specific brand; just use what you like. Pesto, of course, is best if fresh.
Procedure in detail:
Whisk and taste. Simply place all the ingredients into a small bowl, or if you want, a measuring cup with a pour spout, and whisk away. We happen to have a small whisk that’s perfect for using with a measuring cup. After years of making salad dressings, we pretty much already know how much salt and pepper to add before whisking, but, if you’re unsure, dip a lettuce leaf into the dressing and taste it. Adjust the seasoning to suit you.
With just one instruction, the only way this wouldn’t get five stars on the “worth it” scale would be if it didn’t taste good. It does, so five stars all the way. It’s a nice change from the standard vinaigrette, with a bit more aggressive flavor (from the garlic and strong cheese), but the additional oil mitigates that a bit. And, besides, sometimes it’s nice to have a flavor blast to wake up a simple salad.