My friend Ana is the one who taught me that you really can make dressing. She had a great knack for it, and it took me some years to get the hang of it myself. She and her husband Randy, both Culinary Institute of America grads, and I made a lot of dinners together and opened plenty of bottles of wine back when Ana and I were Whole Foodies. And we went to see emmet swimming a lot, which meant late nights, and going out to eat afterwards, and crashing at someone’s house and going to get bagels in the morning. There was a lot of eating. We had tons of fun.
Now they have two boys and we’re out on the Left Coast, so there’s not much getting together. But whenever I make dressing, I think about watching Ana do it, and how as the time I resented my own reliance on purchased dressing and admired her improvisational ability.
This dressing went on a lentil-and-vegetable salad tonight.
¼ c. red wine vinegar
¾ c. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T. whole-grain mustard
1 large clove garlic, minced
Combine the vinegar and oil and stir briskly until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir (it’ll need more than you think, because remember, this’ll be seasoning the whole dish). Add mustard and garlic and stir again. Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary, and stir once more.
If dressing a green salad, I would use less acid and a little more oil. This sort of dressing is also improved by the addition of just about any fresh herb – dill would be great in this permutation, but I’m saving my dill for a potato salad later in the week. If I was using lemon juice as the acid I’d use less of it, omit the mustard, and load up the dressing with finely chopped mint leaves.