Spring is here and bringing back some of my favorite flavors. Immediately, I get the creative juices flowing on what salad I’ll be creating for my next special at the restaurant.
This time of the year, I like to center my salads around fresh, local and seasonal berries. I love fresh, whole berries in salads, but also love using them as a base for dressings. With our beautiful strawberries heading out of season, blueberries and blackberries are coming back in.
You also need some good greens for a good salad and the local farmers here in Manatee County are producing some great lettuces and salad accompaniments. I want to really encourage taking advantage of the seasonal greens you can source from the local farms as it will become more scarce over summer. For the greens, I’ve been using dinosaur kale, “salad bowl” and “red sails” variety lettuces from Geraldson’s Farm Market in northwest Bradenton. For the accompaniments, heirloom tomatoes, pea shoots and radishes from Gamble Creek Farms in Parrish, and strawberries, blueberries and cucumbers from O’Brien Family Farms in East Manatee. It all comes together for a healthy, refreshing salad that complements the returning warm weather.
Whether I’m cooking at the restaurant or at home, salad dressings are one of my favorite things to make. I always wonder why I don’t see homemade dressings more often in restaurants or in a friend’s fridge (for large and chain restaurants, I get the logistics). I think for folks at home, some may shy away from making a from-scratch-dressing due to difficulty, inconvenience or the fear of it spoiling too quickly. Here’s a chef’s little secret — salad dressings
are as easy as it gets. And they hold up for at least two weeks, so you don’t have to make them daily. Here’s the best part — there are no rules. The creativity and combinations for dressings are endless. The nutrition factor might be the biggest upside when comparing homemade to store-bought dressings — no need for corn syrups, artificial preservatives or other garbage ingredients.
My parents picked 120 pounds of blueberries in a single day last year at a friend’s farm in Gainesville. Needless to say, I had a reason to play with some blueberries and you can only drink so many smoothies in a day. I came up with a simple blueberry lemon vinaigrette that topped a fresh kale salad — delicious and healthy. That salad landed on my inaugural menu at enRich and actually turned out to be one of our more popular items.
Enjoy trying this homemade salad dressing with your ingredients.download movie All Nighter
Put all ingredients except the water and the oil into a blender (preferable) or food processor and blend thoroughly. Strain the mixture using a chinois or fine mesh strainer, to pull out most of the blueberry skins and seeds. Then run the water through the strainer to help “push through the good stuff.” Add back to the blender. With the blender on low, slowly add the olive oil so it emulsifies properly. You can always add more water to thin out to your desired consistency. Keep refrigerated.