How can I fill my salad days as simply as possible?
May 27, 2016 4:42 PM   Subscribe

I have tons of surplus lettuce that I need to eat this week! What is your favourite super simple homemade oil & acid combo?

My lettuce came up like crazy and now I'm on a mission to not let it go to waste. Given that I'll be eating oak leaf lettuce and romaine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner I'd like to try some interesting new dressings. Oak leaf is more delicate and the romaine is thick and leafy.

I did nose through a few previous salad dressing posts here, here, and here, but my question is more about simplicity. Looking for super simple oil & acid combos.

Walnut oil & umeboshi vinegar? Balsamic & pumpkin seed oil? Tell me what you love/crave!

Bonus points for crouton ideas or anything involving capers.
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
No acid... but super simple and delicious: I LOVE Olive Oil + 2 smashed garlic cloves + a little more salt than you think. Stir very well because the salt won't dissolve as readily in oil. It is sooo good, much better than it sounds.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:53 PM on May 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

make fattoush with sumac dressing! 1:1 olive oil and lemon juice, add sumac/garlic/other herbs as desired

chop up pita bread into little bits and either bake or fry them til crispy

for maximum fattoosh quality add feta cheese, diced Persian cucumbers, tomato, chicken, ???

it is The Best Salad
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:54 PM on May 27, 2016 [12 favorites]

green leaves, carrots, walnuts, and raisins, balsamic and olive oil.

My delicious dressing which tastes goods on most green salads- ketchup, rice vinegar, a little sugar, salt and olive oil.
posted by Blitz at 4:59 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Two parts cold-pressed rapeseed (canola) oil, one part cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, one part red wine vinegar, tsp Dijon mustard, sea salt, black pepper to taste.

This gives you a robust and savoury but also fairly neutral dressing. Works well with lots of different ingredients and seasonings
posted by howfar at 4:59 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

My super-simple, unfancy go-to is a tarragon vinaigrette:
- finely diced shallot (or a smashed garlic clove)
- veg oil (the lighter the better)
- white wine vinegar
- daub of dijon mustard
- crushed dried tarragon, or fresh if I have it
- salt and pepper

Combine in a vessel that allows for vigorous shaking.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:00 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

sherry vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, honey, and chopped garlic or shallots, S&P to taste

olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, & parsley, salt, sumac and aleppo pepper

unfiltered peanut oil, rice vinegar, lime juice, brown sugar, and a little minced ginger and/or garlic
posted by karayel at 5:08 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

toasted sesame oil + lemon juice + grated daikon + salt + honey

tamari + ginger + orange juice & zest + neutral oil

really flavorful olive oil (the bright neon green stuff that smells like gardens) + seeds and juice of fresh tomato + drop of balsamic + salt

dill pickle brine (strained) + whole grain mustard + olive oil + paprika
posted by Mizu at 5:50 PM on May 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

white miso + grated ginger + grated garlic + oil of choice + rice wine vinegar or umeboshi vinegar + maybe a little sugar if it's too harsh

seconding fattoush as an excellent option

orange juice + lime juice + cumin + onion + s&p + olive oil

non-traditional croutons - bake small cubes or sliced tofu in a 1:1 mix of apple cider vinegar and soy sauce with a slug of oil and some liquid smoke or smoked paprika until all the sauce is absorbed and the tofu is just starting to crisp up (I'd aim for about half a cup of liquids for a 14oz box of tofu).

you could also fry capers with garlic in olive oil til crispy and use as croutons, or add bread cubes to the mix too.
posted by snaw at 5:51 PM on May 27, 2016

you want simple? 2 parts olive oil to 1.5 parts balsamic vinegar. Goes with everything. Add a little dijon or garlic as you like.
posted by gaspode at 6:00 PM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

My go-to is (for one serving; glug-up as needed): a glug of champagne vinegar, a pinch of salt, a few grindings of peppers, a heaping teaspoon of dijon mustard. Whisk to consistency. Add 4-5 glugs of extra virgin olive oil, whisking all the while, until emulsified. I love this best when I also add chopped fresh chives to the salad, along with extra ground pepper. I wouldn't do that for romaine (I'd want something anchovy-y), but oak lettuce + chives + pepper + dijon vinaigrette would be my perfect side salad. (And I speak from experience. I used to get very excited to see the pretty oak lettuce at the farmer's market, and that's how I'd serve it.)
posted by lazuli at 6:03 PM on May 27, 2016

argh sorry, instead of tamari + ginger + orange juice & zest + neutral oil i meant to write TAHINI. But, yeah, tamari would be tasty too, but very different.
posted by Mizu at 6:06 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

(My "peppers" above was meant to be "pepper," as in black pepper.)
posted by lazuli at 6:18 PM on May 27, 2016

Oh, and capers and romaine: I made this Tuna Salad Nicoise with Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette the other day, and it was stupidly good. I've made much fancier salades Nicoises, but this one was gobble-up-able. I did not put parsley flakes in the dressing. I think that dressing plus your romaine plus whatever other elements of that salad you can do would be lovely.
posted by lazuli at 6:24 PM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Lime, an aromatic coconut oil, and a good salt.
posted by tavegyl at 7:14 PM on May 27, 2016

Sesame oil, red pepper flakes,salt and either balsamic or apple cider vinegar. Goes super well when a salad has fruit like mandarin on it. Also amazing if you crush some dry ramen noodles into the salad then add dressing.
posted by InkDrinker at 7:54 PM on May 27, 2016

Croutons: I make these with any leftover bread - especially the heals of any sliced loaf - dice up in any way you like cubes or strips. Toss with enough olive oil to make them nice and golden, a little finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a little more salt than you think you need and pepper. Bake in a 300 to 325 degree oven tossing every 5 minutes or so for even browning for a total of 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the chopped bread. Store in freezer and just toss into salads at the last minute - they defrost quickly and last a long time stored in the freezer.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 7:55 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lime juice, garlic, olive oil, a little salt. I never get tired of it.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:10 PM on May 27, 2016

Shallots and garlic... yes! but, I recently realized how important timing is.

Chop them up and leave them in oil. Do that before you wash the lettuce or do any other prep. All the delicious, oil-soluble flavours will then get into the oil and be distributed over every bite.
posted by cacofonie at 8:12 PM on May 27, 2016

Olive oil, lemon juice, salt.
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:14 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dijon, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup. YUM.
posted by mynameisluka at 10:37 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

for a change, a little sugar and orange/lime juice

also natural yoghurt, mint leaves smushed with garlic and salt, a little goes a long way
posted by kairab at 2:17 AM on May 28, 2016

Olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper. Whisk until slightly thickened.
posted by emd3737 at 4:15 AM on May 28, 2016

OK, this is an awesome salad for your needs. It is super-simple, tasty, healthy, and it keeps in the refrigerator for days, so you can make it in one batch and enjoy it for subsequent lunches.

Romaine lettuce
Fresh dill
Olive oil
Juice from fresh lemons

Get a big knife and cut the lettuce across its length into strips that are about 1/4 inch wide. Finely chop the scallions (white and green parts). Finely chop the dill. Throw all three ingredients into a bowl. Add salt, olive oil, and lemon juice to taste. The secret is to add a lot of lemon - I'd say at least 1-2 lemons per head of lettuce. That's it.

The lettuce will wilt and the whole thing may become a bit soupy at the bottom, but it won't go bad for a while thanks to the lemon juice.
posted by googly at 6:45 AM on May 28, 2016

My basic vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar (can be a bit expensive, so you can make your own, and funnily enough, Heinz makes some that is pretty decent in this use)
1/2 cup olive oil (I usually use mostly a buttery milder olive oil -example-, with a splash of some stronger extra virgin, a Tbl. maybe)
freshly ground pepper to taste (1/4 tsp approx.)
some salt to taste (some people like 1/2 tsp., I usually use less, and I use Kosher salt)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard (fancy is nice, though Grey Poupon will work fine)
one medium clove of garlic, crushed.
Whisk it all together, and it serves about 4. It's nice if you whisk it together and let the flavors marry a bit before using it on a salad (re-whisk to recombine right before using.)

I vary the vinegar on the above in various ways - i.e. I might do 2 Tbl. red wine or Spanish sherry vinegar and 1 Tbl. balsamic, and the like.

I also sometimes vary the oil, by including some avocado oil in with the buttery olive oil instead of the extra virgin olive oil.

Note that the basic vinaigrette works really well on salads that contain beans, or as a marinade for a bean/cucumber salad.

You can use the basic tarragon vinaigrette, and add 2 Tbl. diced onion, 1 Tbl. chopped fresh parsley, and an optional pinch or so of oregano (dried or fresh), and use it as dressing for a pseudo Greek style salad, adding some diced feta cheese and some olives and such to your salad greens.
posted by gudrun at 7:10 AM on May 28, 2016

I use lazuli's method, but alternate between a French version and an English one.

French: Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar, plus extra virgin olive oil

English: hot English mustard and cider vinegar, plus cold pressed rapeseed (I think that's canola in the US) oil.

In each case I salt the leaves a couple of minutes before I dress them.
posted by altolinguistic at 9:37 AM on May 28, 2016

I really like using orange juice as the acid in a salad dressing, or grapefruit. Especially delicious if you include shaved fennel in your salad.

Lettuces also make very nice chilled soups.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:55 AM on May 28, 2016

Maybe a bit too complicated for this question, but here's a reliable one that always works well for me:

-minced garlic
-minced shallot
-sliced almonds (better toasted)
-red grapes (halved)
-sharp cheddar
-salt and pepper
-olive oil
-champagne vinegar

I like this one because it has a sweet/savory thing going on.
posted by owls at 3:23 PM on May 28, 2016

Wilted lettuce is a delicious change from salad. Just put a small amount of liquid in a saucepan, perhaps a little vinegar and olive oil, medium heat, and wilt the lettuce down until it begins to resemble cooked spinach. Some chopped green onions will go well with this. Use the more delicate lettuce.

(If all the salad is making you feel too healthy, you can also add bacon to the wilted lettuce.)
posted by joeyh at 4:51 PM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Trader Joe's has a pretty tasty orange muscat champagne vinegar that is flavorful enough to just whisk in with some olive oil for salad dressing.

I also like a red wine vinegar, olive oil, and dijon mustard mix--it's probably my favorite! I tend to go heavier on the vinegar when I make dressing because olive oil isn't my favorite, but you can use whatever proportions work best for you.
posted by helloimjennsco at 5:43 AM on May 31, 2016

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