Basic Herb Vinaigrette
You all know my love for salad runs deep. Even as a child, I would run home from school and make a massive antipasto salad after school to nosh on while I watched reruns of The Addams Family on Nickelodeon. In those days my salads consisted of iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges, cucumbers, Italian meats like salami and ham, and provolone cheese all drowned in my favorite Italian dressing. I could not get enough of zesty vinaigrettes like Ken’s or Wishbone Italian, my vegetables would literally be swimming in puckery vinegar, and I relished every bite.
Although my entire family was pretty meat and pasta centric, at family gatherings there would always be a massive salad at the buffet. One of my favorites was the chopped salad that my Grandmother Evelyn made. Although she didn’t do much cooking since my Grandfather Bill was the chef of that house, her signature salad was a true beauty. She lovingly chopped a bevy of colorful veggies in small pieces to top the lettuce. This salad was truly my first “eat the rainbow” memory, with colorful bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and sometimes olives, all chopped in flawless, uniform sizes. This was also my first exposure to homemade dressing. She always made a punchy vinaigrette with oil and vinegar to go with it.
This vinaigrette is less oily, a little sweeter and more herby than her dressing but is still a decent tribute to her memory. I will always treasure the memory of simpler times, of being packed in the car on Sunday mornings to visit with my Grandparents and all the Aunts and Uncles and cousins. Memories of big family gatherings, giant buffet tables packed with delicious foods like meatballs and baked pastas and giant rainbow salads, everyone chattering and laughing, in a line to fill our plates, bellies and hearts.
My Grandmother Evelyn was the ultimate Queen of the castle. Even in those days, when women usually took the back seat, there was no question that she wore the pants in the family. Both strict and kind, she was a force to be reckoned with. She has been gone now so many years but the memory of her crinkly eyed, mischeivous grin and her strong character will stay with me forever.
Take my vinaigrette recipe and make it your own. Tinker with the amounts, the type of vinegar, the spices. I want you to make a dressing that you love, share it with your family and make some treasured memories of eating some delicious, colorful and healthy food. Even if salad is “just a side dish” you never know, you may spark a lifelong fascination with fresh for someone and that is the biggest gift you can give.
Basic Herb Vinaigrette Recipe
- 2 tbsp xtra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp maple syrup you may sub another sweetener
- 1 tsp dry Italian spices
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pinch black pepper
- all all ingredients to a bowl then whisk until slightly emulsified