Food writer and recipe tester Linda Avery reviews cookbooks.
by Michele Anna Jordan
photos by Kimberley Hasselbrink
Photos: 30 plus thumbnails
Summer is here and we're thinking barbeques, bringing picnics to outdoor concerts, and lighter dinners. And when I saw Michele Anna Jordan’s newest book, Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings, I thought how easy it is to brighten up an old recipe simply by adding or changing the dressing.
Change up your go-to vinaigrette recipe by switching walnut oil for the olive oil, instead of serving butter with grilled sweet corn, put on a drizzle of warm bacon-maple vinaigrette. This book brings lots of ideas without a whole lot of deep thought.
The intro to Jordan’s book speaks to basics i.e. what to have on hand for most any salad, the right tools, and food safety. That’s followed by 27 vinaigrette recipes from a Balsamic Vinaigrette to Blood Orange, Ginger-Mustard, Warm Fava, and Watermelon to name a few.
Enter the international world and she gives us Harissa Sauce, Raita with Many Variations, Thai Lime Dressing, and about nine more in that realm. That chapter is followed by Classically Creamy dressings such as aioli, mayonnaise, Green Goddess, etc.
The last chapter is Sassy and Spirited Salads including a fruit salad dressed with Mimi’s Tears composed of absinthe, honeydew, lime and cucumber, and Warm Bacon Potato Salad (with six variations!).
After each recipe there is a sentence of two about best uses for the particular dressing with suggestions like using the walnut vinaigrette on a salad of roasted beets, feta, and pomegranate arils, or wild rice with dried cranberries, or grilled scallops.
Also, each recipe is flavor profiled with tags such as creamy, rich, sweet, etc. The following recipe’s tags are savory, tangy, fragrant, and spicy. It’s a good thing.
Although Italian salsa verde is traditionally considered a condiment rather than a salad dressing, it is one of the best dressings in the world for certain types of salads, especially those made with grains, rice, or tiny pasta. Barley, farro, brown rice, or Israeli couscous dressed with nothing more than this is absolutely extraordinary. It is also delicious with a wide range of other foods, from raw zucchini sliced into thin ribbons to grilled meats.
Makes about 2 cups
4 cups loosely packed fresh Italian parsley, chopped
6 scallions, white and pale green parts only, very thinly sliced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons capers, drained and minced, or 2 tablespoons brined green peppercorns, drained
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
Black pepper in a mill
1. Put the parsley, scallions, cucumber, garlic, and capers in a medium bowl and toss with a fork.
2. Put the mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl, season generously with salt, and stir in the olive oil. Season with several turns of black pepper and pour over the parsley mixture. Taste, and correct for salt and acid as needed.
3. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes before using. Although salsa verde is best when first made, it can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days.
Traditional salsa verde to serve with meat: Omit the scallions, cucumber, and lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons anchovy paste or 12 anchovy fillets, mashed, along with the mustard and 2 to 3 tablespoons (to taste) of red wine vinegar.
Traditional salsa verde to serve with fish: Omit the scallions and cucumber. Add 2 tablespoons anchovy paste or 12 anchovy fillets, mashed, along with the mustard and lemon juice.
Raw zucchini ribbons; grilled radicchio; grilled asparagus; grilled cabbage wedges; whole roasted cauliflower; farro salad; barley salad; pasta salad with small pasta, such as acini di pepe; bread salad; grilled fish, poultry, and beef; pulled pork sandwiches