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By: | Posted: 04/01/2012
Is it just me, or is anyone else tired of mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette ? With summer fast approaching, I've got salads on the brain. While the season has yet to officially kick off, I'm already feeling bored. Salads are undoubtedly the go-to meal of warmer months, a perfect way to use up those overflowing CSA boxes and fresh veggies from the garden. Add a little protein like grilled chicken or salmon and you've got a well-rounded, quick and healthy meal. The problem is, the salad routine can (and often does) quickly turn into a salad rut. If, like me, you're determined to spice up your day-to-day dinner program this summer, read on.
I'm a condiment-loving (okay, condiment-obsessed) kind of gal. I'll eat just about anything if it's dressed up with the right sauce. I'll also admit I'm a total sucker for dressings and sauces of, err, lowbrow culinary status. Yes, I said it, I'm a full-fledged Ranch addict. My preference for salty, creamy dressings leaves me a bit conflicted. Bottled, preservative-laden foods are a big no-no; they're so bad for your health and yet so darn good on the tastebuds. Luckily for me, I happen to work in the most well-stocked specialty foods store in town. From cheeses to vinegars to fancy oils, at Surdyk's we've really got everything you could possibly need for an exciting salad experience.
A few of my favorite dressings are easy to make in a pinch, and they bring something new to the old salad routine without sending your food conscience into a shame spiral. Try making a Buttermilk-Chèvre dressing with local Donnay Chèvre, chopped garden herbs, and a crack of fresh black pepper. Drizzled over butter lettuce or used as a dip for crudités, this is my go-to solution for intense Ranch cravings. You might also try making a quick blue cheese dressing. Use any combo of whatever you have on hand (Greek yogurt, mayo, creme fraîche, buttermilk) and stir in crumbles of your favorite blue. I like to use local Northern Lights Blue, Gorgonzola Piquante, or Roquefort Le Vieux Berger. Finish it off with a splash of Edmond Fallot tarragon vinegar for the perfect balance of acidity. Maybe you're looking for something lighter and decidedly more effortless. I love dressing delicate greens with my favorite pantry staple: Lemon Agrumato, an olive oil infused with pressed citrus, and just a sprinkle of sea salt. This easy one is bright, light, and oh-so summery.
Of course, the possibilities are endless. The key to a fabulous summer salad is just a bit of inspiration—something I find each and every time I stroll through the tiny aisles of the Cheese Shop. A glass of wine always helps to perk up a simple meal, too. We've got plenty of that next door. - Emily Dunne
Andrew Zimmern is a columnist for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and the host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.See bio
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