Nosh: Black Olive-Lemon Vinaigrette

Ahhh, summer!  Salads!  Light eats!  No-cook meals!  The body-image-terror-inducing moments of having to put on a bathing suit in public!

Though salads can, admittedly, get boring.  It’s true, I’m afraid.  And it’s not like I’m secretly expressing a salad bias; I love a good salad.

But yes.  They can get boring.

Which is why it’s so very important to have a veritable arsenal of dressings at your disposal.  Mix it up, keep it sassy.

Since there are only two of us, I generally make dressings in small batches, both because I don’t want to get bored with what I’m eating and also for practicality’s sake.  I don’t want it to go bad before I can finish eating it.  You can make however much you want, but remember: if you make it fresh and aren’t a food chemist with a stock of chemicals lying about, then it won’t last in the fridge for months.  If you can’t finish it within a week, note it so you can make less next time.

Here’s what I used:

  • 1 small shallot, rougly chopped
  • Zest and juice from one Meyer lemon, or a regular lemon if Meyer lemons aren’t available.  A small orange would also be a delicious substitute.
  • 5-6 (or so, it depends on the size of the olives in question, and your own personal taste) pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 scant tablespoon (a good healthy dollop, really) grainy mustard
  • black pepper to taste
  • Quantity to be determined: Extra-virgin olive oil (be zen, dears, all will be explained in time)
  • a squeeze of honey (optional)

I was going to say that I wouldn’t try your patience by showing the ingredients before blending them but the fact is?  I forgot to take pictures at the beginning of this process.  So just bear with me, ‘kay?  ‘Kay.

Toss everything except the pepper, olive oil, and honey into a blender.  (Citrus tip: remember to zest first before juicing.  You’ll only need to make the mistake of juicing first once before never doing so again, but if you can avoid it at all…)  Blend.  If you’re having a hard time getting the ingredients to move around, you can add in some olive oil so your blender has something to work with, but you really don’t need to figure out how much you’re going to use.  The amount of olive oil will be determined partly by how much oil you like in your dressing (I don’t like it to be more than half of the total weight of the dressing).  Part of it will be determined by how much oil your olives exude, which probably won’t be much but hey, why go overboard?

Speaking of going overboard, I haven’t stated that you should add salt.  Olives are already plenty salty, so bear that in mind when seasoning your dressing.

When you’ve got everything blended so that it’s nice and smooth, let it settle for a minute so the oil will start to separate from the rest of the dressing.  Just so you can see what proportion of oil you’re working with.  Once you see that, add as much oil as you deem appropriate and crack in some pepper.  Give it all a whirl in the blender and then taste it.  Does it need more pepper?  Salt?  Is it too tart?  Here’s where you squirt in the honey, if you so desire.  Toss it all into a jar which you can cap and shake vigorously for future uses.

A week's worth of dressing!  Yes, we eat a lot of salad.

A week’s worth of dressing! Yes, we eat a lot of salad.

This is one of those 8-oz jars, so it’s not a super-giant amount.  That being said…DAMN, I eat some veggies!

For the record, it goes REALLY well with some falafel and hummus and feta and salad on a pita.

Lunch it like a boss.

Lunch it like a boss.

When you make your own salad dressings, you can provide yourself with whatever flavors you want, in whatever combination.  You don’t have lemons?  Use oranges.  You don’t like thyme?  Use oregano.  However you put it together, you know the dressing isn’t jam-packed with salt and preservatives.  You’re not beholden to an entire bottle you don’t want to “waste”.  And it takes maybe…mayyyyyyyybe…ten minutes, if you’re a slow zester.

Enjoy!

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