Friday, August 19, 2016

Dressing Up: Spiced Apple Cider Vinaigrette to Enhance Your End-of-Summer Salad Days

It's summer and the weather's been too hot for proper cooking and life's been too fragmented for me to prep for grilling or slow-cookering or [whatever else people do]. We have been eating an awful lot of salads these days and nobody's complaining.

Here's why: I don't mess around with my salad dressings. I take them v. seriously and my goal is to have on hand a couple at a time, both good enough to drink. Dressings are meant to help the veggies go down. The lovelier they are, the more veggies we'll consume, right?

This one has been a go-to this summer, based on an all-star recipe from My New Roots, but doubled (you'll want the extra!) and simplified a bit for those of you who get daunted by long ingredients lists and/or don't want to buy twelve spices just for a dressing. Even if it is in the top three dressings ever.

This is what I put it on last night: a lentil salad, as suggested on the My New Roots blog, but with way more vegetables.*

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It would be great with some sort of quinoa or other grain salad with roasted sweet potatoes or squash and/or grilled meats of some sort. Mixing in something salty-umami (olives, capers, grilled mushrooms) with something sweet-tart (dried fruit, apricots) is nice. Go big or go home - veggies are good for you!

Spiced Apple Cider Vinaigrette
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1-2 tablespoons strong mustard (I use a spicy stone-ground kind but dijon would be good too)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander (or two teaspoons if this is your favorite spice and/or it's not in your curry powder - this adds a nice citrusy tone to the dressing to brighten up all the other strong spices)
1 teaspoon baking spice (e.g. apple pie/pumpkin pie spice)
1 teaspoon mild or medium curry powder (a more yellow one will be milder (my preference), something like garam masala would make this a v. intense dressing - not a bad thing, but if that's what you're using maybe start with 1/2 teaspoon and adjust accordingly)
1/4 teaspoon or more cayenne pepper

Put ingredients in a jar, shake it all up, and put on everything! Store in the refrigerator for at least a week.

* In pictured salad: "zen greens" blend, tomatoes, carrots, celery, apricot, cucumber, al dente black lentils, sheep's milk feta, capers, and raw sunflower seeds. It was really good. I'm about to eat it again for lunch.