I decided to take a similar approach in the kitchen. After all, we were lucky to be spending the summer in a small town, where the market was a ten-minute walk away and the farmers market spilled across our street every Saturday. There was no excuse not to improvise.
At first, we alI drew blanks. The kids binged on TV; I came home with eight bags of groceries and had no idea what to make for dinner. All that freedom was intimidating.
But as the weeks went by, we adjusted to the new normal. We left the house without having a destination. We walked and biked everywhere. We picnicked by the river and dined under the stars.
I got used to buying a few fresh things at the market almost every day. Along with the daily harvest of herbs from my roof garden, my “mystery basket” of ingredients became the inspiration for some brand new concoctions.
Some of my kitchen experiments were forgettable, just as some days felt like we did “nothing.” But best of all, I let go of my fear of falling short. This summer, it was all good.
So when one of my besties asked me to crack the recipe for her favorite salad dressing from a local café, I welcomed the challenge. Turns out it was a basic vinaigrette blended with a generous handful of fresh basil. The trick is to use white balsamic vinegar in order to preserve the arresting green color of the basil.
With a pleasant sweetness from the balsamic vinegar and a fresh tang from the basil and lemon, this dressing is all about summer. It’s quite versatile, too. I’ve been pouring it over tomato salads, my morning eggs, mixed greens, grilled fish, and even Greek-style yogurt. You can throw in a seeded jalapeño if you like heat.
Of course, just as I was beginning to enjoy winging it this summer, I came home to school calendars, schedules, to-do lists a mile long. But I wasn’t fazed. This time, I’ve planned for it.
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from half a large, juicy lemon) or white wine vinegar
2 large whole cloves garlic
½ cup fresh packed basil leaves
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil (preferably organic and domestic)
1. Pour the vinegar, lemon juice and garlic into the blender and allow sit for 5 to10 minutes, so that the garlic mellows.
2. Add the basil leaves, mustard, and salt and pepper and blend, stopping to scrape down the sides with a spatula.
3. Replace the center of the lid with a kitchen towel. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil in a steady stream until the dressing is very smooth, bright green and emulsified.
4. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Serve immediately, or transfer to an airtight container, with a film of plastic over the top to prevent it from turning brown. The dressing will keep for up to 3 days.
Pour on a splash of summer while you still can! Try the Basil Vinaigrette on these dishes:
Israeli Tomato Feta Salad
You still have another week to enter the Farmgirl’s Summer Giveaway for a chance to win these stylish Govino wine glasses and an eco-friendly, easy-to-clean beverage bottle from Clean Bottle.
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