As we move into winter, or what we call “greens season,” we’re in need of some new salad dressings to perk up our meals. We happened to see a potential candidate in Wild Garlic, Gooseberries, and Me, by Denis Cotter, and figured that we’d give it a whirl. We will say that for us, the downside is that it makes a lot, about a full cup of dressing, and that’s a lot for only two people. We’re just too used to making dressings on the fly for a single meal, or perhaps two meals at most, and this one makes enough for at least four meals. But, if you can live with salad dressing fit for a crowd, or that you need to store in the refrigerator for a few days, check it out.
We’ll say that right off the bat that we changed the recipe from the original as we were whisking, tasting, seasoning, and tasting, so this will only resemble the recipe in the book. However, we think it’s actually better, a bit more citrus flavored, and perhaps even a little easier to make.
We won’t even discuss the possibility of using any citrus juice that’s not freshly squeezed. No discussion whatsoever. For the olive oil, it’s there to add flavor, so pick one whose flavor you like. If you think that olive oil is flavorless, or is very mild, you’re not buying extra-virgin olive oil, regardless of what it says on the label. You may note that we don’t follow the usual ratio of oil to vinegar (or, in this case, citrus juice); many people use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil, but we find that too oily, and use 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil.
Procedure in detail:
Combine ingredients. Okay, here’s the thing. Every lemon or lime, or orange is going to produce a different amount of juice, and we have no idea how much it will be, so we do all the juicing, pour it into a pint-sized mason jar, add the zest, honey, mustard, chives, salt, and pepper. Now, note how far it comes up the side. Ours was about 3/4 of an inch, and we needed to add about twice that amount of olive oil, so we poured in olive oil until we’d added about 1 1/2 inches of oil. You don’t need to be exact; close will do.
Shake. Place the lid on the jar and seal it up tightly. Shake vigorously. Very vigorously, for about a minute, perhaps a minute and a half, and you’ll see that the dressing is thickening up as the oil and the juices emulsify. Continue shaking like crazy until it’s fully emulsified.
Taste and adjust. Open the jar and taste. Ideally, take a clean dry lettuce leaf and dip it into the jar so you can tell what your dressing will taste like on a salad. Add more salt, pepper, honey, or even a bit of vinegar, whatever you think will make your citrus dressing taste great. Shake and repeat.
Serve immediately. Ladle or pour salad dressing over prepared salads and serve. Store the unused portion in the refrigerator for another salad, remembering to shake vigorously to emulsify before using.
When we made this dressing the first time, we only used a lemon and half an orange; the citrus flavor was lacking, so we quickly zested and juiced a lime to add to the mix. This brightened up the flavor and the citrus stood out. An easy four stars.