Fresh From the Farm – Katie Malich

Why did the refrigerator blush?
It saw the salad dressing

Too hot to cook? Main dish salads to the rescue. Reunion coming up? Shopping for a new swim suit? Think salads.

Cool, refreshing salads. From crab Louie to caprese, tabbouleh to field greens, even grains, potatoes, fruit and herbs, there’s a salad for everyone and every occasion. And there are salad jokes for practically every occasion from ship launching to Oscar night. Sometimes even the same joke:

What type of salad did they serve on the Titanic?
Iceberg.

Whether you prefer the crispness of iceberg, the sharpness of arugula, the softness of Bibb, the sturdiness of Romaine or the colors and textures of mixed baby greens, you’re likely to find your favorites at the Culver City farmers market.

You know, that reminds me of another joke:
What do you call a spider that makes salads?
A salad spinner. .

Salad eaters can’t live on lettuce alone. Thanks to our hydroponic growers like Lark Farms and the vendors offering Asian greens protected by form-fitting plastic bags, we’ve enjoyed fresh locally grown tomatoes, Persian cucumbers and a wide selection of lettuces and salad greens year round.

Now that the summer solstice is two weeks away, we’re seeing more early tomatoes grown outside, in dirt. I’ve yet to see pecks of pickled peppers – or rainbow-hued bell peppers, for that matter – but I’m excited by the variety of cucumbers on offer: traditional, pickling, Japanese, Persian, sometimes even Armenian. Toss in some sweet red onion or scallions, if you prefer, and don’t forget to pick up some radishes and a ripe avocado. Splurge on some fresh mushrooms, thinly slice a couple of baby carrots. Your salad is nearly ready to serve. All you need is a little dressing.

I’ve never been much of a fan of bottled salad dressing. Growing up, a simple vinaigrette mixed in a cruet accompanied our dinner salads at home. Nowadays, I’m most apt to splash a little oil and vinegar and let the salad’s fresh flavors shine on their own. Dining out, I might splurge on a rich blue cheese or a traditional Cesar dressing. I’ve got to admit, though, that a thrill of excitement ran through my taste buds when I read a San Francisco food blogger reporting on the resurgence of The City by the Bay’s one and only Green Goddess dressing.

Try your hand at one or more of these recipes to make your salads some of the best-dressed in town.

Mom’s Basic Vinaigrette

My mother was not an adventurous cook, but her vinaigrette recipe was always spot on and went well with her basic meat-and-potatoes Americana cuisine.

2 T. red wine vinegar
8 T. salad oil
1/4 t. dry ground mustard
1/4 -1/2 t. dried fines herbs
1/8- 1/4_ t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
Put ingredients into cruet or jar with lid. Shake well to emulsify. Keep leftover dressing refrigerated to preserve freshness.

Classic French Vinaigrette

1/2 T. finely minced shallot (substitute white and pale green portion of scallion if shallots are unavailable)
1/2 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice (Eureka lemons are best)
1/2 T. wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4_ t. salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
(optional) 1 1/2_ t. fresh herbs, chopped (tarragon, chervil, etc.)

Combine in jar with lid and shake thoroughly to emulsify.

Some recipes suggest a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar in vinaigrette, but French chef Julia Child found that ratio a bit too acidic for her taste, especially when the salad was being served with wine.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/4_ c. raspberry or rice vinegar*
2 T. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. canola oil
1/8 t. Dijon mustard
1/4_ c. honey
1 c. fresh raspberries
Salt and pepper to taste

To make raspberry vinegar, crush 1-2 T raspberries and add to 1/4 c. white wine or Balsamic vinegar. Let stand for at least an hour so flavors will blend. Strain before use.

Whisk vinegar, and lime juice together. Slowly add canola oil and olive oil, whisking constantly. Whisk in the Dijon mustard, and slowly add the honey, whisking to emulsify. Check seasoning. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in raspberries before serving.

Green Goddess Dressing: Original Version

A taste of Green Goddess dressing evokes memories of glorious glass Garden Court at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. In 1923, executive chef Philip Roemer created this classic dressing for a gala banquet honoring British stage and screen actor George Arliss. Arliss had come to San Francisco to perform in the popular play, The Green Goddess. Dedicated film buffs might recognize Arliss as the first British actor to win an Academy Award (in 1930 for the talkie Disraeli). Arliss was also nominated for his role in the film version of The Green Goddess (one of his silent films which survived).

Don’t let the anchovies in this recipe scare you. They enhance the savoriness of the dressing, adding the element the Japanese call umami. Rest assured, the finished product is not at all fishy-tasting.

8 to 10 anchovy fillets
1 green onion
1/4 cup minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced tarragon
3 cups prepared mayonnaise
1/2 cup tarragon vinegar
1/2 cup finely snipped chives
— Romaine
— Escarole
— Chicory
2 peeled garlic cloves, smashed
— Chicken, crab or shrimp, optional garnish
The classic, Palace version of a Green Goddess salad starts out with a wooden salad bowl. Rub the bowl with the crushed garlic, then blend the anchovies, mayonnaise, vinegar with the vegetables and herbs (green onion, parsley, tarragon, chives). When thoroughly blended, toss lettuce with dressing. Garnish with seafood or chicken, if desired.
Modern chefs will use blenders or food processors to mix the ingredients. They will frequently lighten the dressing, cutting down the amount of mayonnaise. Some substitute a portion of the mayonnaise with sour cream. Others use low fat mayonnaise and low fat sour cream or substitute plain Greek yogurt for most or all of the mayonnaise called for in the original recipe. Many people will add a soft, ripe avocado to the ingredients. The basic recipe lends itself to many modifications. But if you’re experimenting, make sure your dressing includes fresh parsley, tarragon, and anchovies (or anchovy paste). If you’re not going to be serving the dressed salad from a wooden bowl which has been rubbed with garlic, through a small clove in with the other ingredients being blended or processed.

The Culver City Farmers Markets are held on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The downtown market is held each Tuesday from 2 to 7 pm on Main Street between Venice and Culver Blvds. The Culver South market is held on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 pm in the northeast corner of the Westfield Culver City parking lot at the corner of Slauson and Hannum Blvds.

Katie Malich was quite dubious about anchovies during her early years, but now actually enjoys them – in moderation, as one should enjoy all good and good-for-you (thank you, anchovies, for being an excellent source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids) things.

www.culvercitysymphony.org

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