Do you remember ‘back in the day’ when you would go to most restaurants and every table had a bottle of oil and vinegar sitting by some napkins and you wondered who the heck would EVER be satisfied with such a simple dressing when you could order a salad with creamy Thousand Island or Ranch dressings? I do and I confess I was one of those culprits. I couldn’t even stand what was called Italian dressing back then but it was just a derivation of the same thing but with dried herbs as the bonus. Not much better. If I knew then what I know now; I could have been enjoying salads like this Avocado and Orange Chopped Salad many years ago!
Fortunately, as surely as I eventually segued from margarine to butter I also made the move from those creamy (and I’m certain store-bought) dressings to lighter and more flavorful fare. The biggest impetus for that change was the discovery of what had previously been a mysterious and foreign entity…olive oil. I won’t deny that the first time I tried olive oil I might have been less than excited; I think we do get used to certain things and change is hard but I knew it was supposed to be better for us than butter and I kept at it and I’m so glad I did. It’s a staple in my kitchen today and guess what I have sitting next to my stove. Well, a bottle of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar; the better to make my own dressings with my dear!
While I have a great salad dressing recipe to share with you today; more than anything I would love to encourage those of you still buying bottled products to try something new. I absolutely love a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing on salads today; I’m so bad I don’t even mix them. I simply pour a bit of olive oil over my greens and shake a bit of vinegar on top and voila; done. And delicious. There are two things I make in my kitchen that are amazing when crafted at home but that too often people think are more timely or complicated than they are and that’s cocktails and salad dressings. I’ve done my work sharing cocktails and it’s easy to see that most are a 5 minute prep and the same is true with salad dressings. Most often a combination of olive oil, vinegar, seasoning, salt and pepper. That’s it…easy right? And no dry seasonings either; this is a time when the use of fresh ingredients will really make your salads sing. For this salad today I included avocado, oranges, candied almonds, dried cranberries and green onion with a touch of orange juice in the dressing. It tasted like summer (especially if I ignore the snow outside).
My oldest daughter used to say lettuce was simply a vehicle for dressings and she’s right isn’t she; who eats plain lettuce anyway? But if we’re going to flavor lettuce, let’s do it right. Fresh basil, chives, rosemary and thyme are my favorite herb additions but then I do grow those from May through October outside and even manage to keep a small lot going through the winter! One huge change over the years since my ‘awakening’ is the wide variety of olive oils available. Different olive oils really can make a difference in the end result so experiment a bit depending on the ingredients in your salad. I love the olive oils from California Olive Ranch and I used the Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil in this recipe today; much like wine each oil has their own taste profile and excels with certain foods. The Arbequina shows notes of tropical fruits and fresh artichoke and is perfect for pestos and salads or used for drizzling over bruschetta. Simply perfect for both avocado and orange.
I don’t know about you; but this salad is so representative of our Easter meal today. Where many years ago I might spend hours preparing a feast for family and friends, I made the decision years ago to only do that on Thanksgiving; both Christmas and Easter have segued to meals that are not just easier but lighter too. I can only handle that ONE day of overdoing it each year! We have grown to love a simple lamb roast with a salad on the side, some homemade rolls and that one spectacular dessert and we’re happy. This salad is a perfect fit and the dressing is so good you’ll want a batch on hand for more than just this salad; trust me the bottle I have in my fridge now says so!
I decided to make a new version of a Honey Mustard Salad Dressing using olive oil instead of mayonnaise. Can I just say how much I love this lighter version of Honey Mustard Dressing? Let’s see, so far this week I’ve used it for this salad, another salad (shown above) with raspberries, blackberries, croutons, cheese and avocado and last night I served it with pan fried chicken tenders as a dipping sauce. I mean we LOVE it! If you have ever purchased or even made a honey mustard dressing you have to try this version with olive oil; it’s so fantastic that I think it’s my new house dressing. Maybe it’s a leap of faith but I promise; once you start to make your own dressings you will never turn back. So easy, so good and so versatile.
Please take a moment to visit my friends sharing posts today with The Food Network; all created as great side dishes for your Easter Meal. We’ve got a pin board too showcasing dishes from every week of our #SensationalSides so come visit!
- Feed Me Phoebe: Green Goddess Avocado Toasts with Roasted Spring Vegetables and Tahini Sauce
- Dishing with Divya: Thai Roasted Vegetables with Peanut Coconut Sauce
- Haute Apple Pie: Smoked Gouda Scalloped Potatoes
- Food for 7 stages of Life: Spicy Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- The Recipe Specialist: Spring Vegetable Tart
- Napa Farmhouse 1885: Ceviche Appetizer
- Red or Green: Taos Cowboy Caviar
- Creative Culinary: Avocado and Orange Chopped Salad with Orange Honey Mustard Dressing
- Swing Eats: Greek Spinach Casserole (gluten-free)
- Dishin & Dishes: Deviled Egg And Avocado Dip
- Daily*Dishin: Perfect Deviled Eggs 5 Ways
- FN Dish: 5 Fuss-Free Easter Side Dishes