Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dill-lime One More Time Salad

The six of us were gathered around two wooden tables, pushed together in the small, crisp demo kitchen of the co-op. The standing shadow that projected to the back of the room was mine, the rest of the shadows were hunched over, sitting tall, or scribbling on notepads. Dark green bottles of oil and vinegar were spread out before me, in a mottled array of shapes and widths. They were staggered like kindergartners in a classroom line-up. Had I been watching my shadow, I would have noticed how much I fidget when I teach, and how my hair refuses to remain in a ponytail. Had I been looking in from outside, I would have marveled at how the bright glow of the classroom lit up the large square window and cut through the warm dusk sky. Instead I stood staring at the bottles of oil, and feeling the sets of eyes which had only just begun tracing me to make an impression. I poured some olive oil into a tablespoon. A hand shot up in the air.

"Could you use an oil other than olive oil, because I find the flavor of olive oil to be too strong. Or is there one that you would recommend we use that is less strong?"

I put down the olive oil and reached for a different bottle."Yes, I like to use grapeseed oil. It has a flavor that is much milder and a more pale color and.."

I stopped mid-sentence. The oil I was pouring, which I thought was the grapeseed oil, was not pale, but bright blue. It looked like dish detergent. I checked the bottle- grapeseed -then checked the tablespoon- blue. I brought the spoon up to my nose and sniffed. I felt the room wince a little, no doubt because I was now sniffing the thing that they would soon be obligated (out of Minnesota politeness) to taste. In a moment of fear I wondered if someone was playing a trick on me, or if I had grabbed the wrong bottle. If I continued on with the class like nothing was amiss I might risk poisoning someone. As I floundered around up front, one of the students spoke up "is it supposed to be that color?" By this time I had the spoon up level with my eyebrows and I was inspecting it, cross eyed. I dropped the spoon and looked up, exhaling a large amount of air.

"No. I have never actually used this brand before." I confessed, feeling stupid yet relieved. Honesty has that effect on me. I took a taste of the oil. It had a greasy finish, which would swallow all of the delicate flavors of the rest of the evenings dressings.

For the remainder of the class, we discussed how the salads you make are only as good as the quality of the ingredients. Using the wrong oil for example, can result in the need to cover up off flavors with additional ingredients. This doesn't mean you have to buy the expensive oil, in fact, I think it is better not to. Expensive oils move off of the shelf slowly and have a higher risk of being spoiled by the time you open them. I go for a nice middle of the road oil, and try to buy small bottles of ones I have never tasted in case I don't like the brand.

The dressing for today's salad is one I had to make over, because I tried to use that blue green oil.

Dill lime dressing
4 Tbsp Salute Sante brand grapeseed oil
2 garlic scapes
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp dill
1 Tbsp lime juice
lime zest
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1/4 tsp honey
Blend together in a food processor.

The salad
1 1/2 medium kohlrabi, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup pea pods
1 small head red leaf lettuce

Christina's vote: "This salad screams 'I love Sunday!'"

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