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How to make a simple salad with lemon and olive oil

January 3, 2010

This is the most basic form of a simple green salad. The key to a good salad dressing is in the balance between the oil and the acid. In this case, I use lemon and olive oil. Lemon and oil can be added “to taste,” but taste is not always clear. You can drizzle a bit of lemon juice and taste to see if it seems right, but if you don’t yet trust your taste you wont trust your salad. Here is good way to build a salad by taste.

PhotobucketPut as much of your choice of greens as you like into a bowl with extra room for tossing. Drizzle enough olive oil to give a very light coating to your greens. Use a little less than you think you may need. It is easier to add than to subtract. Add a good pinch of salt to the oiled lettuce and toss very lightly. Taste the oiled/salted lettuce. It should taste pretty good before you add the lemon. The salt and oil should have a nice flavor. If it seems dry, add a bit more oil, and if it seems a little bland add a little more salt. When it tastes alright, squeeze a few drops of lemon onto the salad and toss lightly once more and taste. The lemon juice should give the salad a slight bite and salt should bring out the flavor of the oil. The salad should have a light coating of dressing, but not be wet or oily. Serve this salad anytime, breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Eventually you will be able to dress any salad almost to perfection without tasting along the way. If in the beginning you remain unsure about your balance, a good rule of thumb for salad dressings is 3 parts oil to one part acid. If you ever find that you have added too much lemon, grate a little bit of parmesan cheese into it. The acid from the lemon softens the cheese and give the dressing a slightly creamy consistency. When this salad feels comfortable you can start experimenting with balsamic and other types of vinegar. Dressing a salad may not seem like much, but to learn to dress a salad simply and perfectly is to learn the theory of preparing ingredients in balance to one another. so make this salad! then make a million other salads over the course of your life.

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Oil
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Salt
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Toss lightly and taste
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Lemon
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Finish
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Serve
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