Sturdy green salad with lemon yogurt dressing

October 12, 2012 § 13 Comments

Well dear friends, the distillery, which after a flurry of ad hoc focus group testing with friends who are roughly in our target market and/or have clever things to say about names is now officially named Vikre Distillery, now has a Facebook page.  As of yesterday!  And you know, if that doesn’t make something real, then what does, really?

In the non-Facebook version of life, also known as reality, the distillery is still very much in the process of becoming extant.  But, we’re making a lot of progress and have found all sorts of amazing help, willing ears, editors, math-checkers, connection-makers.  Though so far, the number of people who have offered their services as first line taste testers outstrips the numbers of any of these categories by far.  Leaves’em in the dust.  No contest.  (Gee, I wonder why.)

By day, I find myself bopping between meetings and then back to focused data coding.  By night I continue to stare pensively at data with a furrowed brow breaking only to fill mason jar upon mason jar with vodka and herbs, trying to come up with our ideal gin blend and aquavit flavor profile, etc. etc.

Joel crunches and recrunches numbers, and perfects powerpoints, and pamphlets, and makes a lot of phone calls.  I’m glad I’m not doing that part.  I have a weird irrational quasi-fear of calling people.

Some days are awful and I throw up my hands, convinced this was the worst idea in the known history of mankind (worst, no exaggeration) and that it will all be a miserable failure.  Other days are bright and happy, full of hope and new connections and small successes and a sense that we can make things happen.   These things go like that.

Anyhow, progress, progress, progress.  Each little step, on any sort of day, is progress.

Since we’re both working from home now, it’s possible to break for lunch and sit down to eat together.  This is, in many ways, really nice.  However, it’s added a whole new layer to the daily food production circus.  I love lunch as much as I love any meal, if I have the time and mental capacity to pull it together, but it is the meal I least often can muster that kind of energy for.

At first, excited at having someone to be sharing lunch with, I put thought and effort into making nice, sustaining lunches for us to share, sensible meals with a little flare.  But, as much as I would like to take my lunch cues from the lovely ladies at the Canal House or from Amanda Hesser’s kids’ lunches, I couldn’t keep it up, it’s just not quite my routine.

It would seem like it wouldn’t be that hard to be able to reliably at least keep sandwich fixin’s around, but somehow it is.  In my zeal for titrating out meals and letting no ingredients or leftovers go to waste, it often turns out that we have bread around only every other week, sandwich meat only every several weeks, lettuce greens probably every four days or so, leftovers sometimes…but sometimes not.

Being used to being by myself for lunch, fully unsupervised, I am accustomed muddling together funny meals, as I am prone to doing whenever I am alone.  The food equivalent of randomly generated sentences.  Thus it is that, after a couple well organized weeks of homemade pizza, and soups, and sushi, and kimchi fried rice, the answer to Joel’s question, “so what are we having for lunch?” suddenly became, “errr, well…well we have some leftover spaghetti squash and some salami, I was just going to kind of eat that.”

Not impressive, but real life.

I pulled my lunch-self back together a couple days ago to make this salad though (once we had run out of carrot soup and gone for a couple days eating roasted sweet potato and canned fish, heh).  Usually I’m more focused on the content of a salad than its dressing, that’s just the kind of girl I am, but this one is really all about the dressing.

Which is not to say the content is anything to sniff at, laced with the crunch of celery and fennel, silky avocado, squeaky salty olives, and toasted pine nuts.  The content of the salad is actually quite awesome, but it was the dressing I really fell in love with.

We had just a bit of raw milk yogurt left from a dairy up the North Shore, a dairy where the cows chew their cud while enjoying one of the best views in the world over the glittering expanse of Lake Superior.  I had been fixated on the idea of making buttermilk dressing for a couple of weeks, but decided at that moment that yogurt dressing could do just as well.

I built the dressing off of a recipe from an old Bon Appetit, a tangy, creamy, light, and refreshing blend of yogurt, garlic, oil, and loads of flat leaf parsley.  I’m not in general the most vigorous parsley advocate, but I have discovered that in certain contexts – sauces or dressings – its grassy quality can really make a dish shine, and this is one of those.

We had more dressing than we needed for one lunch, so the next day I drizzled it over some Greek lamb which was delicious.  The day after that I used the last bits of it to spoon over roasted delicata squash rings, which was phenomenal.  One of the best things I’ve eaten in a while, actually!  So good, we ate it all up and didn’t leave any leftovers.

Which left me puzzling the next day again over lunch.  Oh well!

Sturdy Green Salad with Lemon Yogurt Dressing (serves 4)

  • 3/4 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  •  salt and pepper
  • 4 handfuls of sturdy lettuce or baby spinach
  • 3 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, cleaned and very thinly sliced
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into slices
  • 3/4 cup green olives, quartered
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  1. In a jar or bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and olive oil.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Combine the lettuce, celery, fennel, avocado, and olives – you can either put them all together in a big bowl or divide everything between four plates.  Sprinkle the salad with the toasted pine nuts and drizzle, generously, with dressing.
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