Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Big Green Salad on the Boat

Salads are one place where Julia Child really gets the first "Last Word."
It is all about the dressing, and as she said, there is nothing like one made fresh.

     In a galley, where refrigerator space is at a premium, giving up real estate to a salad dressing bottle is out of the question.  So, what to do instead?  Use the pantry ingredients that have other jobs, but were always intended for making salad dressing.

     All successful oil & vinegar or vinaigrette dressings have just a few essential elements, and the rest is poetic license.  You just need a fat, an acid, an emulsifier and some seasoning.  Such an open ended recipe is perfect for the galley cook working at the end the stores, or with unfamiliar material.
     Fat can be oil, melted butter, or even bacon drippings (yum...) or some combination.   For acid we often think of vinegar, but it can be a citrus juice or anything sour.  Mixes of acids from what you have on hand can make some serendipitous flavors (lime juice and rice vinegar, lemon and balsamic).
     The job of the emulsifier is to add body to the dressing by getting the oil to hook itself to the vinegar even if just for a little while.  Mustard (prepared or powdered), egg yolks & anchovy paste all fit the bill, and have a decent chance of being on board.  Mayonnaise will even work in a pinch, since that is a vinaigrette that has just been whipped to another state - peek at the ingredients to see what I mean.
     Seasonings are all about personal style.  I like to add salt and pepper to taste, and usually a minced clove of garlic (or the powdered equivalent). This is a great place for seasoning salt or your secret spice blend.

The measurements are standard, but do not suffer from being eyeballed, and then adjusted as you go.

Dressing for a  Big Green Salad

1 tsp mustard (or 1/2 tsp dry mustard)
1 garlic clove chopped fine (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1 Tbs vinegar or citrus juice - a little more if using powdered ingredients
A pinch of salt and pepper

Mix these together with a fork in a cup or in the salad bowl.  Then while stirring, slowly pour in

2 Tbs oil

 All these ingredients can also be put into a small jar/tupperware and shaken vigorously by some crew member just sitting there, watching the cook work.

     Toss this with whatever tender, leafy greens you get your hands on - lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and add in thin slices of whatever vegetables and/or tart fruits are on hand.  Some excellent combinations include; onions & mandarin orange slices, tart apples & celery, onions & sour plums.

This, of course, all works on dry land too.

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