Monday, July 16, 2012

summer salad daze

Whoever came up with the phrase "lazy hazy days of summer" was nuts. Hazy perhaps, but lazy? Not around here!

Lonesome Road Studio is a bit of a late bloomer this year regarding summer shows and markets (nothing like waiting until the hottest part of the year to emerge from hibernation!) and will be kicking off a short summer show season with the new Downtown LaSalle Canal Market on Saturday, July 28th. In the midst of all the preparations for shows, our garden has come alive as well and we're currently up to our eyeballs in cucumbers. Lazy? No way!

Typically I make cucumber salads with a more savory-salty flavor, but this year I experimented a bit with a dressing that I used earlier for a classic spinach and strawberry salad. I discovered that this sweet and tangy dressing was also a great match for cucumber slices and we've been enjoying it in abundance.

Simply combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Shake in a jar or whisk briskly to dissolve the sugar completely. Then, add 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and 1 tablespoon poppy seeds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I prefer to use a light sunflower oil for this dressing. You can use olive oil but I like the lighter taste of the sunflower oil, and I hate waiting for refrigerated olive oil dressings to "unthicken." I also like to experiment with different types of balsamic vinegars and found that using a raspberry-infused white balsamic vinegar is wonderful with salads featuring fruit.

If you're in the LaSalle, Illinois area, come and visit me at the Downtown LaSalle Canal Market! I heard a rumor that The Olive Gallery will be there also - could be dangerous for me. Having a bit of a vinegar obsession, I'm hoping that they'll bring their Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar to the Market - doesn't that sound wonderful? Their Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar is already on the Lonesome Road shelf - decadent, delicious and so different, and it also makes a wonderful vinaigrette for spinach and strawberry salad! So, you might just see a lot more wildly experimental salad dressing recipes here at the Lonesome Road kitchen blog... what better time than during the salad daze of summer?


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