Thursday, November 13, 2008
CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE: IT'S NOT JUST FOR THANKSGIVING
Retirement affords one the opportunity to pursue new interests, but also provides the time to engage in favorite pasttimes. I like combining the two, the favorite pasttime being cooking and eating, the new interest being lunch. After years of closing the door and throwing down food as I returned phone calls and emails, prepared reports and budgets, and prayed for a "knockless" lunchtime, I know what it's like to sit down and relish an uninterrupted meal. Yes, lunch is really a meal and it can take longer than 7 1/2 minutes to eat it! Lunching out is great and needs no explanation, but inviting a few good friends to share a midday meal is a new pleasure. I have to confess that lunch is my favorite meal, much to Larry's chagrin. He adores breakfast, with dinner a close second, but for me, lunch is Queen.
Panini are always tempting, but some days, nothing will do but a salad. Last time the "ladies who lunch" stopped by, we had wonderful prosciutto and fontina panini with an apple walnut salad dressed with a fabulous cranberry vinaigrette.
I generally prefer oil and vinegar, balsamic vinegar, to dress my salads rather than cream-based dressings or highly seasoned vinaigrettes. When I was looking for something different to dress this salad, I came across this recipe from allrecipes.com. This dressing immediately became a favorite and I've made it regularly since. While I prefer it over mesclun, I've used it with romaine and even iceberg lettuce. I generally whip up a batch in my blender and put it in a Mason jar. It dresses over a week's worth of dinner salads as well as a few lunch salads. For lunch, I'll add grilled chicken or shrimp or some ceci. I love it with crumbled cheese--goat cheese, feta, or gorgonzola being my favorites. I can't wait to have leftover turkey to make a real Thanksgiving-inspired salad. I may even toss in some leftover stuffing cut into crouton shapes.
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup red onion, chopped
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
chopped walnuts (best if lightly toasted)
In a food processor or blender, combine the cranberries, vinegar, onion, sugar, and mustard. Puree until smooth. Gradually add oil, then season with salt and pepper.
Dress your salad with the desired amount, then sprinkle with chopped walnuts.