If you're like me and get glassy-eyed at the thought of vegetables, if you basically hate the whole idea
of salad, yet still think it would be a good idea to eat these things
from time to time, the key to everything is sauces and dressings.
The strategy is to come up with a sauce or dressing so good that the
concept of vegetables and greens as food is eliminated — they become simply the means of conveying some sort of tasty topping into the mouth.
For salads, you can't just buy some Paul Newman's gourmet dressing and
think that will do the trick. This stuff tastes like salad
dressing — salad
dressing. It's there to “dress”, to tart up, something you don't
want to deal with in the first place. You need to be
creative. You need to make something yourself which doesn't
resemble anything you've ever encountered at the dressing station of a
Here's a recipe from Rick Bayless, that guy on PBS who does shows about
Mexican cooking, for creamy queso añejo dressing. Queso añejo is
a flavorful aged Mexican cheese which tastes a bit like Romano.
You can find it at just about any Mexican market (look for the kind
that's actually made in Mexico) but Romano, which you can find
anywhere, works just as well.
Start with 3/4 of a cup of olive oil in a mixing bowl or blender.
Add 1/4 of a cup of rice vinegar. Add 3 tablespoons of
mayonnaise. Add 3 generous tablespoons of grated (freshly grated!)
queso añejo or Romano. Add slightly less than a tablespoon of
salt. Add 2 to 4 cloves of roasted garlic.
Here's the simple way to roast garlic. Put the unpeeled cloves in
a dry skillet over medium heat. Roast the cloves, turning them
often, until they're soft and splotchy brown. It takes about 15
minutes. Remove them from the skillet and when they're cool
enough to handle, remove the skins. Put the 2 to 4 cloves into
the mixing bowl or blender — if you're
going to be mixing the dressing by hand, run the garlic through a garlic press before you add
it to the bowl. (Be sure to roast a good number of
extra garlic cloves to eat while they're still warm — few things are more
delicious . . . mild, nutty and slightly sweet.)
Add some chopped-up cilantro or parsley if you feel like it.
Mechanically blend or mix (with a whisk) the contents of the
bowl. Add a little more salt to the dressing if needed then
pour it over Romaine or butter lettuce for a most delightful
dish. Save what's
left in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator — but trust me, it
won't last long. It's just too good. You'll wonder why you
didn't buy more lettuce.