By Julia Westhoff
Even with the drought, beautiful and tasty veggies abound this time of year, leaving me scrambling to get them all eaten before they go bad. Lately we’ve been making some wonderful, simple salads inspired by the wonderful lettuce, cucumber, onion and tomatoes from the backyard and farmers market.
I used to think salads had to be super fancy, but lately I’ve realized that even just freshly-dressed lettuce is enough. If I don’t have lettuce, I’ll often cook a batch of lentils (preferably red), and toss them with the veggies and dressing. I might add a chopped up hardboiled egg if I’m feeling frisky. The result is somehow something greater than the sum of its parts.
I’m somewhat picky about salad dressings – I almost never buy any from the store. They’re so expensive, unhealthy, and just not very good. Besides, making my own takes just a few minutes, and I’m often surprised at how many compliments it gets me. I usually go pretty light on the olive oil, and heavy on the garlic and acid.
Here is my basic recipe. It probably requires nothing that’s not already sitting in your cupboard:
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Using a mortar and pestle, make a paste of the garlic cloves and salt. Scrape the paste into a jar, and add the pepper and vinegar. Shake. Slowly add the olive oil. Makes 1/3 cup, and keeps in the fridge for several days.