Every once in a while I have a stroke of inspiration in the form of an amazing salad — and an amazing salad dressing to go right along with it. It might sound weird that I find inspiration in a bowl of lettuce, but my passion for creating great salad truly runs deep. (Almost as deep as my passion for creating a great soup, but not quite — maybe in the warmer months the salad wins … )
As a great friend of mine once said, “a good salad is the gateway to healthy eating.” Once you master something simple like a truly scrumptious salad, there’s no limit to the vegetables you can consume!
Really, you can put pretty-much anything into a salad if you’re thoughtful about how the ingredients will talk to each other — including warm ingredients, which happen to be one of my favorite things to use to make a salad interesting. I sautéed some shrimp in coconut oil to toss into this salad, but roasted chicken or grilled lamb could also work with these flavors — or skip the meat and use this salad as a side dish for a larger spread.
Requirement: Homemade Salad Dressing
The most important ingredient in any salad is the dressing. You can ruin perfectly beautiful produce with crappy dressing, so don’t skimp on quality — make your own. I have a pretty strong opinion about store-bought salad dressing, and also some really simple tips on how to make your own at home, so don’t get overwhelmed. I promise, it’s not hard, and you’ll thank me when you taste the difference.
In fact, the jewel of today’s recipe is actually the dressing. The whole salad is delicious, but rest assured, this dressing takes the ingredients from good to great. I served this salad at a dinner with friends, and the next morning I got a text asking for the amazing salad dressing recipe. It’s that good!
Amazing Salad Inspiration: the Mighty Kumquat
I found my starting point at the fancy natural foods market by my house. They had a basket full of beautiful kumquats right in the middle of the produce section, and I just knew I had to find a way to use them.
Unlike just about every other citrus fruit, the meat of the kumquat is sour, while the rind is relatively sweet. Tiny enough to pop right into your mouth, the kumquat is meant to be eaten in its entirety, skin, seeds and all. And honestly, so much of what’s healthful about citrus fruit goes into the compost bucket — the rind and seeds take kumquats to new nutritional heights!
High concentrations of vitamins A and C, tons of fiber, riboflavin (part of the B complex), and antioxidants like beta carotene make kumquats a pretty fantastic source of goodness for your body. I can’t get enough of them when they’re in season.
Once I had my kumquats, I needed to offset the tart with some bitter, sweet, and umami. I went with frisée and red radicchio for the leafy bits (bitter). Then I remembered that I had leftover beets at home from a killer smoothie I made for work (sweet). Hint: You can get the pre-boiled beets at most grocery stores to make this step simpler.
I topped the salad with fresh-grated Pecorino Romano, an ingredient that’s good on just about everything (umami).
And now the long-awaited amazing salad dressing …
- In a jar large enough to fit the immersion blender inside, add 1 raw egg , the juice of 3 lemons, and all of the oil
- Blend these ingredients in the jar to make a thinned out mayo
- Add the rest of the ingredients in and give another quick pulse of the blender
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