Delicious dressings of desire
Ah, who can dare resist the sweet temptation of greens? Soon we will be enjoying garden lettuce, and its rewards are endless. The relationship between succulent leaves and divine dressing can be traced back to the Persians and Egyptians. By 500 BC, it was one of the most popular vegetables in Italy. It remained on the very-desired list with the Romans over the following centuries. Lettuce, in its wild form, spread into northern and western Europe where it was gathered and enjoyed. In China, lettuce has been cultivated since the fifth century where often it is braised and steamed. Food historians believe it was Christopher Columbus who introduced lettuce to the Americas. Today’s lettuce descends from loose-leafed plants native to the Middle East.
There are three main ingredients when it comes to dressing:
Oils. To the gourmet chef, high-grade olive oil is essential. There are a variety of olive oils. Not having grown up with olive oils, I prefer using the more delicate French type. With the recent blending of vegetable oils made from corn, cotton seed, peanuts and canola, I have found these to be excellent. I often prefer them over olive oil. It is also good to keep in mind that vegetable oils are rich in food value.
Vinegars. Just like oils, vinegars come in many strengths. Rice vinegars have become a real favorite for mine when making dressings. When using stronger vinegar, I add it gradually until the dressing is as sharp as I like. If you are looking for vinegars that add a distinctive taste, then consider pear, tarragon, wine, garlic or other specially- seasoned varieties. Old-fashioned cider vinegar has a great delicious flavor, and this is an excellent base on which to build. Often when traveling, I like to check out the local vinegars.
Seasonings. Salt should be pure-like kosher. Lately I have enjoyed using sea salt, as well. Again, this is about experimenting with your tastes. Pepper is certainly at its most pungent state when you grind whole peppercorns fresh in a pepper mill. This is easy to do, and I would suggest trying it. You will taste a difference! When adding garlic, also consider powdered dry garlic if you do not wish to use a clove. Fresh or dried herbs in limited amounts are delicious. I would suggest writing down what you blend-that way it will be easy to recreate.
I share with you dressings that we enjoy in our home. It is important to note that homemade dressings are much healthier, and often lower in calories, as well.
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