Have you ever read Kathleen Flinn’s The Kitchen Counter Cooking School? This book is a great resource for beginner or experienced cooks. Flinn brought together a group of people who were not confident in the kitchen and offered them classes on kitchen basics such as chopping, braising, taste testing, and saving money on groceries with the goal of teaching them how to choose and cook delicious, healthy food, and then documented the entire process in her book.
What I loved about this book was how Flinn makes the case for cooking at home. She’s able to demonstrate that many dishes that people often prepare from a mix, box, or jar can easily be cooked at home if you buy the ingredients and cook from scratch. As well, she talks about all the added ingredients in store bought foods, which caused me to really look at food labels. Flinn points out that salad dressing often has many ingredients in it that you can’t pronounce or recognize, and there is usually added sugar. This inspired me to stop buying salad dressing–I easily and quickly make it at home.
There’s lots of lettuce coming out of the garden now, so I’m sharing my balsamic vinaigrette recipe that was inspired by Flinn’s book. It has raw garlic and oil in it, so it should be eaten within four days. Once it is refrigerated, the oil often solidifies, so just take it out of the fridge ahead of time and then shake as needed to combine.
I like to use this vinaigrette on a salad made with mixed kinds of lettuce and topped with diced honey crisp apples, a little feta, kalamata olives, and chopped walnuts.
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried cayenne pepper (less can be used; season to your taste)
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (or the juice from about a whole lemon)
- ¾ cup olive oil
- Pour the vinegar in a bowl with the garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne and whisk until salt dissolves.
- Stir in the lemon juice.
- Whisk in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly. (Or place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine.)
- Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.