There was an Italian market right around the corner from where we lived in New Haven. They sold overpriced produce and served the best sandwiches and salads I’ve ever had. Prior to frequenting there, I’d never been extremely fond of ordering a sandwich or salad out, especially when given a choice. When in New Haven, you eat pizza. But this place and their pesto sandwiches and italian salads, they changed my mind forever.
I promised myself I’d work on that sandwich this summer, but the salad came first on a late spring afternoon when I was scrounging up a salad to take to family’s house, last minute as always. I came across Brown Eyed Baker’s Italian Dressing recipe. I altered it slightly and added all the ingredients from my favorite New Haven salad. I packed it up and ran out the door, praying the dressing wouldn’t tip on the way over. Instead, I spastically opened the driver door into my head. The salad survived. I did too, though I questioned whether I would at the time. They called me Miss Grace for a reason growing up.
We sat down to pizza and this salad. And the strangest thing happened. We ate seconds and thirds of salad before pizza. And the pizza was good.
Now, I’m no stranger to salads. But this salad, it’s epic. I don’t use that word lightly. We fight for the last bite in the bowl, my tiny human included. She has a new found love for salads, which is also the strangest and coolest thing. Sometimes I worry about dressing an entire salad before serving it. Will we eat it all? Will it go to waste? These questions have nothing on this salad. The answers are yes and no.
English cucumbers. Cherry tomatoes so fresh they’re sweet. Tangy pepperoncinis. Salty roasted sunflower seeds. Mild green onion. Fresh feta. Abundant greens. This is our house summer salad.
Make vinaigrette. Pull out your high-powered blender or food processor. Let’s keep the clean-up minimal by using the 1/4 cup measuring utensil for the first 3 ingredients. Fill half of the 1/4 cup with parmesan (that equals 2 tablespoons) and add to the blender. Add two measuring cups full of the oil and one of the vinegar. Semi-complicated directions, easy clean-up.
Add remaining ingredients into the blender. Cover and blend until well combined, 15-30 seconds.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. Shake well before serving as dressing will separate and sometimes congeal.
Make salad. Prepare salad. Use your discretion on how big or small to make the salad. Add all salad ingredients to a bowl. Just before serving, toss salad in desired amount of dressing. Start with a little. You can always add more. Serve.