When I was growing up, my job at dinnertime was to set the table and make the vinaigrette for a salad my nutrition-conscious mother served with each meal. It was your basic version: 2 to 3 parts olive oil to lemon juice or vinegar sometimes with a little mustard whisked in, salt, pepper and, mum always insisted, a good pinch of sugar.
Maybe that influenced my taste in salad dressing but I like a hint of something sweet to counteract the acidity of a vinaigrette. Orange juice concentrate is one trick I use, occasionally maple syrup and often rice vinegar.
Here’s a delicious dressing from wonderful California chef John Ash. He uses honey but I find maple syrup works just as well, maybe better. Lately, I’ve been tossing steamed kale with toasted sunflower seeds, chopped apple, lettuce, chopped tomatoes and red pepper – this dressing is excellent on that combo. It is delectably light and refreshing on any green or mixed salad.
I don’t bother with the chopped shallot. Rice vinegar is the Asian one sold in most supermarkets. Store in airtight container in fridge.
2 tbsp finely chopped shallot
6 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup or liquid honey
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp olive oil
Whisk all ingredients together. Add to salad just before serving.
Makes about 1 cup.