Orange Zest Vinaigrette

recently i've been making meals that revolve around salads - somehow sunshine and heat make the stove and oven seem less desirable while just thoughts of cool greens, veggies, and fruit feels feels refreshing.

recently i've been experimenting with proteins and vinaigrette - and my new favorite salad is cold rosemary roasted chicken salad with an orange zest vinaigrette (vinaigrette dressing below). but i've also tried adding shrimp, fish, nuts and beans to a greens salad. for shrimp, i'm still looking for a more flavorful combination. for fish, i recently made toasted sesame salmon which turned out pretty good - i'd like to try marinated tuna as well, but i'm a little nervous about anything raw due to parasites and other nasties.

i probably use nuts (almonds mostly) on nearly every salad i make. i really think chopped almonds make just about everything taste a little better, and when i'm chewing a mouthful of greens, broccoli, radish, and carrot, somehow chopped almonds make me feel less like a rabbit. i actually keep a tupperware container filled with pre-chopped nuts just so i can sprinkle them over salad - especially if on summer nights when i'm not making another major protein.

i've discovered that as long as i have something else on the plate besides salad (e.g. mashed potatoes, risotto, fresh bread, muffins, biscuits etc), i really don't miss having a protein dish. the salad fills me up and the comforting side dish satisfies my need craving for something a little decadent and not-green. this strategy works especially well if i have a dessert lined up to distract my mind from the missing protein - oooooooooo, pie you say?

it's not that i'm giving up meats (i still often eat fish or chicken or bacon over my salad), but by fall i may not care that i cannot cook a steak properly or that i've never roasted a turkey. because i'm sure i can come up with a new salad strategy for fall and winter months - there's got to be a way to make salads as comforting as pot pie, chicken soup, chicken piccata, shepherds pie... maybe i need to add toasted bread cubes or something to distract me from the wad of green on my fork.

or maybe i just need to come up with more dressings like this vinaigrette. i don't mind the taste of most greens as long as the dressing masks the flavor :) And this dressing does a great job because there's plenty of orange zest, a little bite from vinegar and lemon juice, and plenty of heat from the black pepper. it's also easy to make:

Orange Zest Vinaigrette
Prep time: 8 minutes
  • In a large measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or 1 lemon) with 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Add zest of 1 orange, 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste), 1 teaspoon honey and 1+1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • Whisk together until smooth. Check taste for and add more salt, pepper or vinegar to taste. Makes enough for 2 quite large salads or 3 smaller salads; store leftover dressing in the fridge in an airtight container and allow to warm-up for 15 minutes at room temperature before using from fridge 

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon honey
1+1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard

what kind of vinaigrettes or dressings do you like to make or use? more suggestions would be most welcome...

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