Italien salad dressing

Italien dressing

Is there anyone else than me that have given a new year resolution?
Is there anyone else than me regretting that?
I thought so.
Well, a promise is a promise. My new year resolution was to reduce my meat consumption. I have already reduced it a lot, but I think I can do more.

I don’t think I will ever become 100% vegan. However, I’m not even close to that. I can do more, no doubt about that.
But if I’m supposed to trade meat for more vegetables, it has to taste great. Otherwise, I will “forget” that resolution in a couple of weeks. There are thousands of ways to make vegetables more delicious. Some vegetables don’t need anything extra. They taste just fabulous as they are. But not all of them (anybody else not thinking Brussels sprouts is a godsend?).

I have decided to eat more salad for lunch this year. It’s a great dish. There are thousands of variations, and sometimes, just sometimes, you can add some meat and still feel good about it.

But a salad needs a dressing. Otherwise, it’s just boring. And the best dressing is that containing ingredients that you usually have at home. Because of course, you should mix your own dressing.
Buying ready-made dressing always gives you some extra junk you don’t want. Don’t believe me? Read the ingredient list next time you stand in the grocery store with a bottle in your hand. I’m sure you will find at least one additive that you don’t have a clue about what it is.

Besides, it won’t take you many minutes to mix your own. You will make this Italien dressing in less than 10 minutes.
It will lift your leafy green salad and most other vegetables to another level.

Italien dressing

 

Italien dressing

 

If you’re planning to use all of it the same day you should, of course, use fresh garlic. But if you want to make a big batch to have in the fridge for a couple of weeks, you should consider using garlic powder instead. Keeping fresh garlic in oil for longer periods can be a bit hazardous. Even if you store it in the refrigerator. Just google Botulism, and you will understand what I mean. The same goes for the dried herbs. Dried basil is pathetic compared to fresh, I know. Oregano is better, and parsley is somewhere in between. But if you plan to make a big batch to keep in the refrigerator, I do think dried herbs are better.

So, now there is no excuse for not eating vegetables. Except for Brussels sprouts of course. But perhaps if I roast them with parmesan cheese and some olive oil? It may work.

Italien dressing

 

 

 

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Italien salad dressing
This Italien dressing is not only the perfect partner to your leafy green salad. It will lift all kind of vegetables to another level.
Servings
cup
Ingredients
Servings
cup
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a jar and shake well.
  2. Add some sugar if the dressing is too tangy. You may have to adjust the salt and pepper as well.
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Panzanella, (Tuscan bread and tomato salad)

I faced a problem some days ago after too much Christmas food. I craved for Panzanella. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Is that a problem? Yes, here in Sweden it is because you need tomatoes for a Panzanella. And the tomatoes taste nothing here at this time of year. At least most of them.

It must be possible to make a decent Panzanella here in the north even if it’s in the middle of freezing winter. At least I tried to convince myself of that.
So I went to the grocery store and bought the best tomatoes I could find. They were not that bad. It was more flavor in them than I had expected.

But I had read that it is possible to coax a little more concentrated flavor out of them by salting and draining them.
So that was just what I did. The result was above expectations. The tomatoes tasted more, and they were even slightly crispier.


I decided to save the drained tomato juice for the vinaigrette. There was still some tomato flavor left in it. Instead of wasting it I could spread it all over the salad.

After that, it was time to think about the rest of the ingredients. One of the main ingredients together with the tomatoes is, of course, the bread.
You may have read that you should use fresh roasted bread for the best result. Because I hate to waste food I always try to use some of the stale bread pieces that usually remain in the bread box. I think that dishes like Panzanella was invented for that purpose. They gave poor people an opportunity to use pieces of stale bread that everybody had in their bread box.

But the bread still needs som softness. You don’t want croutons in your Panzanella. It should be crispy on the surface and soft in the middle.
Just rip the bread into pieces and roast them in the oven for a few minutes. Just enough to give them some crispiness and some nice color.

Bread
Crispy on the surface and soft in the middle.

I think you need a minimum of five ingredients for a classic Panzanella.
Tomatoes, bread, garlic, red onion and basil. But I wanted something more. I just love grilled bell pepper, so I included that as well.


But there was another reason to include the bell pepper. Even if the tomatoes was quite good, they still lacked som sweetness. That’s exactly what you get when you grill bell pepper.

Some people have problems with raw onion. But there’s a trick to reduce its pungency. Soak the sliced onion in ice cold water. That will draw out the sulfates and make it more tolerable.

A Panzanella also needs a high-quality vinaigrette. I used olive oil, red wine vinegar, some of the tomato juice and a small dollop of Dijon mustard. The mustard helps the vinaigrette staying together better. It doesn’t matter how much you whisk. The oil and the vinegar will separate if you don’t add something emulsifying.

Always use your (clean of course) hands when you’re dressing a salad. Your salad spoon and fork are not as gentle as your hands, and they won’t tell you if the salad had enough of dressing.
After that, the only thing left to do is to enjoy the salad. Perhaps with a glass of white wine.


In conclusion, I would like to point out that you can add more ingredients. I have been using anchovies and capers with excellent results. Be careful with the anchovies, though. Otherwise, they may take over the whole show.

Panzanella
With anchovies and capers.

Apart from that, I only have one more thing to say.
It was possible to make a decent Panzanella in the middle of the winter.

 

Print Recipe
Panzanella, (Tuscan bread and tomato salad)
A classic Panzanella. A Tuscan bread and tomato salad that makes you believe the summer is here, even if it's in the middle of winter.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Optional ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Optional ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cut tomatoes in half and place them in a strainer or colander over a bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon sea salt and toss to get everything coated. Let the tomatoes drain for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Rip the bread into pieces and roast them in the oven at 350°/180°C for about 10 minutes. They should be crisp and firm and just slightly browned.
  3. Grill the bell pepper and cut it into slices. Cut the red onion into thin slices and soak them in ice cold water if you want to reduce the pungency.
  4. Add garlic, vinegar, some of the drained tomato juice, olive oil and mustard in a bowl and whisk to a homogeny dressing
  5. Put bread, vegetables, dressing, and basil in a large bowl. Wash your hands properly and mix everything thoroughly. Wait a few minutes before serving to allow the bread to absorb some of the dressing.
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