Serve this awesome red wine vinaigrette dressing over butter lettuce and top the salad with toasted walnuts, shredded Monterey Jack cheese and sliced strawberries. It’s a festive and healthy salad that you’ll want to make again and again…and again.
I’ve never met anyone that did not really like this red wine vinaigrette dressing. (And, it was always offered as part of our special occasion packages at our store.) I know that’s a bold claim. But, it’s true. I’m sure that there is someone out there who does not like it…but, I’ve never logged a complaint…only complements.
So, as we approach the New Year…still in celebration mode…but with an eye on new beginnings too, I can think of nothing better to share than my absolutely, very favorite salad. I call it our “house” salad because if you visit you are more than likely going to get this with one of your meals…or as your meal. It’s festive, but does not require a lot of work and it’s pretty healthy too. It’s the perfect salad to kick off the New Year.
Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing
The cornerstone of this salad is the red wine vinaigrette dressing. Beware! Once you make your own dressing, it is very hard to alternate between store bought and homemade. It tastes soooo fresh.
This is my favorite container for homemade salad dressing. No measuring cups required because the markings are right on the container.
The dressing is made with canola oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, fresh garlic, salt, paprika and white pepper. Over time I’ve played with the formula. You can’t replace the canola oil with olive oil. And, it’s not the same without fresh garlic.
And, then there is the sugar. Sigh. I wish I could use less. But, ¼ cup is the perfect amount. Occasionally I will cut it down to 3 Tablespoons, but it’s not the same. Splenda will work too. I did not like the taste of Stevia and I’ve yet to try agave nectar. I’ve come to accept that this is one of those food items I cherish (kinda like cheesecake and dark chocolate.) I try to make the rest of the salad ingredients healthy to compensate for this slight indulgence.
Here’s the deconstruction of the The Dinner-Mom’s house salad with red wine vinaigrette dressing along with some suggestions to make it your own.
Fill a bowl with butter lettuce. Butter lettuce is tender and delicious…and I’m convinced I use a lot less dressing when I use this type of lettuce because I can munch on this sweet lettuce au naturel. Sometimes I toss in some baby spinach leaves. Another good choice is a bag of mixed spring lettuce.
Top the salad with toasted walnuts…or pecans, or sesame seeds. Something crunchy. Toasting the walnuts adds a nice touch and only takes about 5 minutes in the oven.
Mix-in shredded Monterey Jack cheese…or crumbled goat cheese or mozzarella cheese. Your favorite cheese. I use a low-calorie version.
Add sliced strawberries…or blueberries or dried cranberries. A fruity topping.
If you add a little protein, like blackened honey chicken or spicy roasted chick peas, you have a meal. (By the way, the combination of sweet and spicy is addictive.) Add some crab cakes or broiled scallops and you have a gourmet salad.
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