A few weeks ago I had a pear, gorgonzola and walnut salad from a fancy cheese and salad shop downtown. The dressing was a creamy and sweet balsamic vinaigrette, so delicious. I feel a little silly making such a huge deal about this combination but it was new to me, (I'm so behind the culinary trends, forgive me haha) so I went crazy over it. The next trip to the grocery store I checked out a few bottles of balsamic vinaigrettes to read the ingredients and see if I could make it at home. Pretty much all of the bottles included sugar as the third or fourth ingredient, which, because the FDA regulations require the ingredients to be listed in quantitative order, means that most of those bottled dressings were sugar and oil with some salt and preservatives. So I went home and mixed together what I assumed a balsamic vinigrette is really supposed to be made of, balsamic vinegar, oil and a little salt and pepper. I mean, it should have been common sense, people have been making salads way before we had food processors and refrigeration. I kind of assumed it would difficult to do, words like "emulsify" sound kind of scary. I felt even sillier when I realized all I had to do was shake a few things together in a mason jar.
1/4 c good quality balsamic vinegar
3/4 c good quality olive oil
two cloves of garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon of honey
Combine ingredients & shake the mason jar until it is "emulsified".
That simple. It does separate in the fridge, but all you have to do is shake it all up again and its fine.
Now, Im actually not a huge fan of eating gorgonzola. I can appreciate it for what it is, stinky, astringent and moldy, it has its place in things and worked well in the fancy cheese shop salad but I wouldn't buy it to keep at home. I do absolutely love a good sharp parmesan reggiano, but preccorino is a good and more affordable substitute. (have I told you that I have to budget cheese into my grocery list? cheese and olive oil are my splurges, I will eat lentil soup three times a week if I can finish is off with some good olive oil and cheese!) So, when I made the salad at home I used:
two big handfuls of spring mix
1/2 a bosc pear, cut into chunks
(thin slices are prettier but awkward to eat)
a couple of shaves of peccorino
(I shave off bits with a knife, nothing fancy)
I've added in a few different things through out the week to use in this salad, including some candied nuts, roasted sweet potato chunks. apples, and some cous cous with sage and cheese. It would also be a good dressing to keep on hand to go along with all the thanksgiving left overs. It is a pretty sweet salad, so adding some savory aspects would be good too, like roasted turkey, or even throwing the stuffing (or dressing if you are from the south) in and it would be great! That's really what a salad should be I think, lots of greens, with a good dressing and whatever else you have in the fridge. I love the idea of a panzanella, a type of bread salad, but have never had one! I might try to make one this week with left overs as well.
thank you for reading,