Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Cooking

From the food editor: This citrus chopped salad needs a good, homemade vinaigrette

The emulsion was almost complete. Rice wine vinegar, check. A couple of glugs of nutty olive oil, check. Some honey, a dash of soy sauce, salt and pepper. Just one ingredient left to go, and it was a crucial one.

Sesame oil.

It would offer the unique flavor I needed for my chopped citrus salad, putting an Asian twist on what was otherwise shaping up to be a classic dressing: oil, acid, sweetener.

I reached in the fridge, past the Worcestershire sauce and grainy mustard, and pulled out the small bottle of sesame oil. Staring back at me was the sell-by date, and it wasnít pretty, friends: Oct. 12, 2015.

Oh. Okay. Time for Plan B.

I grated a garlic clove into my unfinished dressing, added a hefty squeeze of fresh lime and a tiny squiggle of sriracha sauce.

It was pretty good. But it wasnít quite what I had in mind.

So when I attempted this chopped salad the next day for a dinner party, I texted a friend to bring some not-3-year-old sesame oil over and came up with the dressing recipe below. No lime juice (instead, I gave the entire salad a spritz of lime right before serving) or sriracha (too many things going on), but a generous amount of sesame oil and some fresh ginger, too. Ah, thatís more like it.

I know that making your own salad dressing can seem kind of ambitious, when itís so easy to just pop a top and squirt something from the store over your bowl. But Iíve grown more fond of it, mostly out of necessity, when I make an impromptu salad and donít have any bottles of dressing in the fridge. I think homemade dressing tastes much better, and I like the idea of making only the amount I need for that dayís meal.

A couple of notes on the salad part.

I took the time to evenly chop all of the ingredients, even the greens, with my big sharp chefís knife, so this reads like a true chopped salad. One of my biggest (and honestly, weirdest) pet peeves is salads composed of such giant hunks of stuff that you have to dig in with a knife and fork to get a suitable bite.

You can assemble almost all of the salad ingredients a couple of hours before you serve it, and stick the bowl or platter in the fridge to keep everything cold. Iíd wait until just before you eat it though to add the almonds, green onions and sesame seeds, so that they stay nice and crunchy.

Citrus Chopped Salad With Sesame Vinaigrett

6 cups spinach or mixed greens

2 large carrots

Half a medium cucumber

Half a red or yellow bell pepper

1 orange

1 avocado

? cup slivered almonds

2 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 lime, cut into quarters

For the vinaigrette:

ľ cup extra-virgin olive oil (or canola oil)

ľ cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

3 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced

Ĺ-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or finely minced

Zest from 1 orange, optional

Roughly chop mixed greens. I placed a handful at a time on a sturdy cutting board and briskly ran a sharp knife through them a couple of times. Add to a large bowl.

Trim the ends off the carrots, then use a large box grater to grate carrots. You can also cut them into thin, matchstick-like pieces with a sharp knife. Add to bowl.

Cut cucumber and bell pepper into thin, matchstick-like pieces about 2 inches long. Add to bowl.

Zest the orange by running the outside orange peel along a microplaner or small grater, and add to a small bowl or glass jar with a lid. Set aside. Cut the rounded bottom and top parts off the orange, then run a knife along the edges from top to bottom to remove the orange peel and most of the white pith. Cut orange into small chunks and add to bowl.

Cut avocado in half, remove and discard pit and scoop the green flesh out. Cut flesh into small chunks, then add to bowl. Lightly toss ingredients to combine and place in the fridge while you make the dressing.

Make the vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or glass jar with a lid ó the same one you added that orange zest to. You donít have to use the zest if you donít want to, but I liked the cirtusy punch it adds.

Shake really well so everything is nice and combined, then use immediately. Anything left over will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks; just make sure to shake it well before using.

When ready to serve salad, top with almonds, green onions and sesame seeds. Squeeze lime over top.

Serves 4.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times

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