June is known as wedding season, but it's also fresh salad season. Brides might appreciate ideas for preparing healthy recipes that are tasty, quick-to-fix and budget-friendly.
But you need not be a bride to enjoy the simple but profound benefits of a fresh, seasonal salad. I love taking a simple recipe that can be used in multiple ways. Once you find a recipe you really like, there are often a variety of ways it can be combined with other foods to create several recipes.
A basic vinaigrette recipe is a must with summer salads. A vinaigrette is all about simplicity and can easily be prepared just before serving since all of the ingredients are staples and readily available. It adds a gourmet touch to many different types of salads and is so simple to prepare.
Vinaigrette is a mixture of oil and vinegar or other acid such as lemon or lime juice. Fresh or dried herbs and spices are often added for additional flavor. Many vinaigrette recipes use three or four parts oil to one part acid, but I prefer to use equal amounts of oil and acid or more acid than oil to maximize a salad's health benefits.
Vinaigrettes can be prepared by stirring or whisking in a bowl, by shaking in a jar with a tightfitting lid or blended in a food processor or blender.
The secret to a good vinaigrette is quality ingredients. Once you learn to mix and match fresh ingredients with quality vinegar and oil, let your creativity do the rest.
For instance, your vinaigrette can evolve into a fruit salad dressing. To make a mixed fruit salad, choose three or more different colored fruits in bite-size pieces such as quartered strawberries, diced mango and purple or green grapes. Pour desired amount of fruit salad dressing over fruit and toss gently to coat all fruit. It can be drizzled over an individual fruit salad such as a fresh pineapple ring topped with raspberries and blueberries. It could even be drizzled over a cut grapefruit half. The recipe follows.
Another basic recipe to use in various ways is an orange glaze, which can be drizzled over a plain, cooked chicken breast, pork chop or fish to dress it up.
It can even be served over vegetables such as carrots or sweet potatoes.
If desired, add 1 to 2 teaspoons (or more depending on your taste) of a fresh minced herb to the glaze during the last minute or two of cooking.
Try tarragon if serving over chicken, rosemary if serving over pork chops, and dill if serving over fish.
Another variation is to sprinkle the herb on top of the glaze after it has been served instead of stirring it in during the final minute(s) of cooking. This recipe is also follows.
Our first vinaigrette is delicious tossed with a mixed green salad with just one other ingredient such as cherry tomatoes or with a variety of favorite ingredients such as sliced cucumber, slivers of purple onion, sliced mushrooms, bell pepper strips, radishes and/or grated carrots. Fruits such as diced strawberries, blueberries or orange sections also can be added. Use your imagination to decide which vegetables and fruits you want in your salad.
This vinaigrette also can be drizzled over an individual serving of several ingredients such as diced avocado, cherry tomatoes and reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese to make a lovely side salad. Vinaigrettes can even be used as a marinade for poultry or meat. Find a vinaigrette you love and you will find multiple uses for it
Simple Vinaigrette Recipe
Makes a ½ cup or 8 tablespoons
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 8 tablespoons. Each tablespoon contains approximately 64 calories and 7 grams fat.
Fruit Salad Dressing
Makes a ¼ cup or 4 tablespoons
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 4 tablespoons. Each tablespoon contains approximately 21 calories and no fat.
Orange Glaze Recipe
Makes 1 cup of glaze
Fresh herbs such as tarragon, dill or rosemary if desired
Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 8 tablespoons. Each tablespoon contains approximately 14 calories and no fat.
Becky will teach Learn with Lunch classes featuring Chilled White Gazpacho, Caramelized Orange Chicken and Fresh Fruit Compote with Basil at noon Tuesday in the Gourmet Grille inside Buy For Less at 3501 NW Expressway; at noon June 18 at the 10011 SE 15th location in Midwest City; and at 9:30 a.m .June 19 at Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W Covell in Edmond. Class size is limited, call 302-6273, ext. 332, for reservations.