I’ve been on a salad kick lately.  And let me just say, I’m not a “salad” type of person.  You know the ones I’m talking about — The mostly-females who go into restaurants, claiming they are “starving”… then when it’s time to order, they whisper to the waiter, closing the menu, “I’ll just have a… salad.”  Nope.  That’s not me and never will be me.  I love food.  In fact, I adore food.  So much so that I (and as it seems, others) am often surprised I don’t weigh more… but I have an extra-fast metabolism, thanks to my skinny dad.  Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked.  What I was saying is I love food — Whole, hearty meals with many side-dishes, ensuring to fill you up, so much that you have to unbutton your pants to get a slight bit more comfort.  …This is why it comes as a shock to me that I get on salad kicks.  I guess my body craves what it craves; I give no judgement… but, I was ecstatic when salads were my next application.

Episode Four, Season One: Salad Daze… which is kinda funny looking back now because I was in a “salad daze.”  I’m still so surprised with Alton… I grow up thinking one way about certain foods, and he teaches me to look in a different direction.  For instance, did you know the best salads contain a mix of greens: mild, sweet… and mean greens.  So, if you want to impress someone and serve a salad, those fantastic-looking “Romaine Heart” salad bags… they’re nothing.  You want the mix.  But what exactly are “mild, sweet greens”?  Good question… I certainly didn’t know… so Alton answered.  Mild, sweet greens are romaine, bibb, and butter.  What about mean greens, you ask?  Well, mean greens are  chicory, watercress, escarole, radicchio, endive, and arugula.  And despite the fact that I cannot pronounce any of those greens except romaine, butter, and arugula… I am still confident Alton and I are off to something good…

With the salad now chosen, it’s off to the dressing… which is what my actual application was on.  Veni Vedi Vinaigrette.  Let me say here, since I was able to eat a salad, I hated dressing.  Despised it.  It was too potent, overpowering my beloved water-logged, crunchy greens.  Not only that, but the texture was nasty.  It was slick and slimy… I could picture it coating my mouth in this Pepto-Bismol-style, where every inch of where that dressing touched, it was there to stay.  Definitely not for me… which is why I always took the strange looks, the repeated, “Are you sure you don’t want dressing?”, the comments of “You don’t need to lose weight!”  No, no, everyone.  It’s not that.  It’s dressing.  And it’s gross.  I say all of this because after college, I suddenly experienced one of the most misunderstood foods… that’s right, dressing.  I think many people use it as a vice — covering items they maybe wouldn’t eat alone.  A perfect example is lettuce… I’ve taken a secret poll, and I’m astonished at how many people admit to hating lettuce… yet, they still eat salads.  Why?  Answer: They enjoy the dressing.  So strange.  Dressing should “dress” a dish… not overtake it.  Picture it like a wedding dress: The dress should not be wearing the bride.  The bride should be wearing the dress.  Okay.  I’m off my soap box (is that what they really call it?…)  But my point is, I finally discovered dressing at the ripe ‘ol age of 24.  Now, I still haven’t acquired a taste for the ultra-thick dressings (such as Bleu Cheese, Ranch, even sometimes Caesar)… but I am enjoying the subtle Vinaigrette dressings.  So again, Alton, thank you for knowing exactly what to put next in your book.

This dressing was unlike any I’ve had before.  Take that for what it’s worth… knowing now I’ve become a dressing critic for about three years, so my credentials may not be up to par.  Still, I’ve watched food shows enough to know the importance of emulsion… which ensures your dressing stays together (imagine oil and water, forever apart… until some type of emulsifying agent arrives and orders them to get along).  So the other ingredients beyond my vinegar and oil?  Mustard, garlic (I’m noticing… or smelling how much Alton loves his garlic), and salt and pepper of course.

Another key to emulsifying the dressing was using a cocktail shaker… that way you can slowly pour in the oil and shake “vigorously” (as Alton says).  This gives your dressing a chance to turn out exactly like mine — creamy.  I’ve never seen or tasted a 100% creamy and smooth Vinaigrette.  Thinking back, those past Vinaigrettes must not have been emulsified correctly because some oil would be here on my lettuce, some vinegar there on my carrots, but never together.  This time though, every drop contained a perfect amount of oil and vinegar.  A give and take of tiny partials to ensure the entire dressing was a success.

Oh… there is one more thing about this dressing — It was a bit… tart.  Tart’s a good word.  For the first time since James and I opened Alton’s cookbook, we shared this application with my sister… and we would catch glimpses of one another — lips puckered, one eye closed, the other squinted, making an uncomfortable-looking grimace.  But please don’t let these last comments discourage you.  This dressing was amazing… if you don’t mind the tart-tang every few moments.  …And by the way, I know this dressing to be amazing because I’ve made it more than once… based on other people’s request for it… and Trista (my sister) enjoyed it so much, she decided I wasn’t making it often enough… so she copied the recipe and made it more than once.  For her boyfriend.  Who I think maybe asked for it to be made again.  So you see, more people are hopping on the Veni Vendi Vinaigrette train.  It was a hit… and made me appreciate what true dressing can add to a salad.

PS-Did you know, for a salad of four, the amount of dressing recommended is about two tablespoons?  Total.  I told you people use too much dressing…

PPS-To those curious, sorry there are no pictures.  My digital camera broke around this time… and the images I thought I took don’t seem to exist… at least that’s what I think my camera claims when it tells me, “Memory Card error.”  *Sigh*  Hopefully this will be rectified soon…

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