I decided to kick off my cooking endeavors with Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook "My Father's Daughter" with a salad. The book contains a fair share of salads, and the best part is that Gwen includes homemade salad dressing recipes to go along with these dishes.
I'm always reminded of just how simple it is to whip up your own dressing. Not only that, but you are using fresh ingredients you are eliminating all of the nasty chemicals and artificial junk that bottled salad dressing are laden with.
I halved the portions of Gwen's initial recipe, and ate this as my main course for dinner one night. I also made several substitutions based on what ingredients I had access to, and I've noted these changes below.
Tomato & Avocado Salad Serves 4 as a side salad, 2 as a main
4 large handfuls of Butter lettuce, washed and roughly torn (Gwen suggested using mizuna, a peppery Japanese lettuce)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 cup Miso Dressing (see below)
1 Tbsp sesame seeds (I used black sesame seeds)
Put the lettuce on a serving platter. Scatter the tomatoes and avocado over the lettuce. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
Miso Dressing makes approximately 1 1/4 cups
1/2 cup peeled and roughly chopped diced Vidalia onion
1 small garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped (I used crushed garlic)
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp white miso
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce (consider reducing this amount at first to 1 Tbsp then adding more to taste)
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp mirin (I did not have this so I substituted a dash of Truvia, an all natural sweetener)
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp oil (olive, vegetable, etc)
A few grinds of black pepper
Sea salt, to taste
Blitz everything but the oil together in a blender (I did this is the food processor) until smooth. Slowly stream in the oil and lightly mix together. Season to taste with the salt and pepper (and additional soy sauce).
I liked the simplicity of this recipe, and I would definitely make this again. It's a quick dish to whip up and it's perfect for warm summer days when the last thing you want to do is turn on the stove. If you wanted to expand on the meal, I'd suggest adding a protein such as shredded chicken or a piece of grilled salmon.The combination of the avocado and tomato, along with the fun addition of sesame seeds, was delicious.
I really liked the general taste of the dressing, though I found the original batch a bit too salty. As I noted above, I'd consider reducing the amount of soy sauce and omitting the salt at first. This will allow you to salt to taste. I'd also consider playing around with the amounts of water and oil to balance out the flavor. Overall, I'd say to mess around with the amounts of each ingredient to get the dressing to your liking.