Lettuce is seasonal in the garden from spring all the way through fall. With so many varieties – looseleaf, butterhead, Romaine, Batavian, mesclun and more – tasty, fresh-from-the-garden salads are
a three-season treat.
What’s more, lettuce is a crop whose fresh-picked taste can not be equaled by anything from the store. Greens are high in mineral, vitamin and fiber content. And there is likely to be much more variety at the local farmers market than at the supermarket, since most lettuce varieties are not yet grown commercially in any quantity.
Many salad-loving Americans do not realize how simple it is to make one’s own salad dressing. It is fast, easy, less expensive and more delicious than anything out of a bottle. Here are recipes for a basic vinaigrette, along with delicious home-made mayonnaise that can enhance any dressing.
Creamy Vinaigrette Dressing
In bottom of salad bowl, let ½ tsp salt dissolve in 1-2 tsp vinegar.
Add ½ – 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and ½ – 1-2 tsp mayonnaise (optional, quantity to taste). Mix with a fork.
Add 2 Tbsp oil (I use olive or canola, or a mix) and whisk with a fork.
This dressing can be prepared in the bottom of a large salad bowl ahead of time; lay lettuce and other salad fixings over the dressing. When it is time to eat, toss the dressing into the salad.
NOTE: Optionally add a touch of lemon juice or flavored vinegar in combination or in place of the vinegar. For a plain vinaigrette, leave out the mayonnaise.
Place in bottom of a food processor:
½ – 1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk (eggs at room temperature)
2 (or more) cloves garlic, quartered
Turn on and grind for about 30 seconds. Then, slowly add canola oil in a fine stream through the feeding hole.
After adding about one cup or more, the mixture will start to thicken. Keep adding oil until it begins to have the thickness of mayonnaise. Stop and taste. Add more salt if desired.
Finally, add 1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, pulse, and taste.
Mayonnaise may be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Try adding herbs (tarragon, basil, chives) to mayonnaise at the end for flavor. Great as a dip.
Visit the West End Market from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday through October at the corner of Church and Dodge in Evanston‘s 5th Ward.
The West End Market is a project of the Evanston Community Development Corporation (ECDC).