Friday, May 1, 2009

Fresh Greens, Homemade Dressings & Michael Pollan

We ate fresh greens from our garden last year and I used bought salad dressing. I didn't think too much about it. I did mix up my own now and then and they were very good, but the bought dressing was easy.

garlic, lettuce and spinach- photo taken yesterday

Two things have inspired me to switch over to homemade dressings this year. Earlier this spring, I came across a few recipes for dressings in Simply in Season and made a mental note that I wanted to try them. They looked extrememly easy. The greens started rolling in this week, so I tried a couple. What coincided with the greens has been my second inspiration- reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. Oh, please, pretty please, go find this book- library, Amazon, where ever. Just drop what you're doing and go get it.

From the book jacket (this book was also just released in paperback):

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, the well-considered answers he provides to the questions posed in the bestselling The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists-all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not "real." These "edible foodlike substances" are often packaged with labels bearing health claims that are typically false or misleading. Indeed, real food is fast disappearing from the marketplace, to be replaced by "nutrients," and plain old eating by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals. Michael Pollan's sensible and decidedly counterintuitive advice is: "Don't eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food."

Writing In Defense of Food, and affirming the joy of eating, Pollan suggests that if we would pay more for better, well-grown food, but buy less of it, we'll benefit ourselves, our communities, and the environment at large. Taking a clear-eyed look at what science does and does not know about the links between diet and health, he proposes a new way to think about the question of what to eat that is informed by ecology and tradition rather than by the prevailing nutrient-by-nutrient approach.

In Defense of Food reminds us that, despite the daunting dietary landscape Americans confront in the modern supermarket, the solutions to the current omnivore's dilemma can be found all around us.

In looking toward traditional diets the world over, as well as the foods our families-and regions-historically enjoyed, we can recover a more balanced, reasonable, and pleasurable approach to food. Michael Pollan's bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we might start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives and enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy.

End quote.

Now, after all that reading I just made you do, you're probably hungry for some greens and dressing. Right?? Here are three recipes for you. Each of these recipes are super-quick. Just put the ingredients in a jar and shake.

Ginger Dressing (adapted from Simply in Season) serves 4

6 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 inches ginger root (peeled and minced) or 1-2 tbsp. minced ginger in a jar
ground pepper to taste

The original recipe called for 2 tbsp. soy sauce as well. We didn't like this addition- the soy sauce flavor was too over-powering. If you love soy sauce, try a little, adding more to taste.

Ginger Dressing

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing (adapted from Simply in Season) serves 4

2 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Lettuce and Egg Salad (recipe from my mom and Grandma)

This is not 'egg salad' on lettuce. You may even have this recipe or a very similar version tucked away in your recipe box- it's a classic. This salad is perfect right now when there aren't a whole lot of salad toppings for our greens yet. Depending on how much greens you have, you may need to double the dressing recipe in order to coat the greens well. I love this salad.

a large bowl of washed, dried and torn greens
7 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

1 cup mayonnaise
4 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Toss the dressing into the greens and 5 of the sliced hard-boiled eggs just before serving. Make another recipe of the dressing if your greens aren't coated well. Garnish the salad with the other two sliced eggs. Serve immediately.

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  1. Yum. Yum. And Yum. And...thank you for two more books I just added to my library request list. I have been eyeballing Michael Pollan's book...but haven't read it. Maybe I am not ready to go full bore? Probably not. I'm still reliant on the food industry...a lot actually. More than I'd like...but I'm working my way there. Slowly but surely.

  2. Yummy. With greens this nice, we do like the Italians and toss with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a spritz of vinegar in a wooden bowl rubbed with garlic. I save the heavy flavored dressings for greens that are past their lovely baby stage.

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