“Salad” … in those thrilling days of yesteryear…
When I was growing up, we didn’t have salad very often. The veg was usually peas, or creamed corn, or whatever else was available in a can in the 1950s. When we did have salad, it was always iceberg lettuce. Like a wedge of it. And just the lettuce – no onion or tomato or seeds or nuts or olives or cukes or bits of carrots or raisins anything else. Just lettuce. Which has all the nutritional value of a Post-It. And the dressing was, as we called it back then, Russian. Iceberg lettuce with Russian dressing. It was never anything else.
No blaming parents for this lockstep salad routine – they ate what they knew, what they liked, and didn’t risk pushing the boundaries of culinary exploration. Fine. The ugly truth is, I loved Russian dressing! Ketchup and mayo smoothly blended! No relish or spices or oils, just ketchup and mayo, smooth and semi-sweet and virtually exploding with fat.
“More Russian dressing?” my father would ask.
In time, like in college, I graduated to other full-fat dressings that carried with them what we now call “mouth feel,” the membrane-pleasing slipperiness that’s thick and salty – chunky bleu cheese, ranch, goddess, creamy Italian — all those thick gooey ones. Later, as a parent of three young kids, I continued to adorn salads with thick dollops of Russian dressing (which I now called Thousand Island), until the kids discovered it was made only with ketchup and mayo – which appalled them – and their mother suggested we try a variety of oils and vinegars for something a little different.
Since then, we’ve played with all kinds of oil-and-vinegar based dressings (the way Paul Newman did back in the late 60s and early 70s to test out on my aunt and uncle and cousins across the street), and we hit new heights of dressing pleasure a few days ago with friends in Tenants Harbor after having it at their house. We flipped over it, and Otty M., its creator, wanted to share the recipe. So here it is:
Knockout celery seed salad dressing
Make this an hour ahead of serving time so the ingredients meld together.
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (the raw organic stuff is the best)
- 2 oz. white sugar (a little less or a little more, depending on your taste)
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1 cup canola oil (do not use olive oil for this!)
- 1 tsp. celery seed (key ingredient!)
In a bowl, combine the vinegar and sugar till fully dissolved. Stir in the chopped onion. Add the mustard, salt and pepper. Now slowly drizzle in the canola oil and mix well. Finally, mix in the celery seed.
Now just let it sit for an hour at room temp to let the spices infuse the liquids with their flavors. Transfer to a glass jar, shake well, and serve.
After last night’s Democratic debate (which I doubt very many people saw), I loved seeing this from TIME magazine – with nearly 100,000 votes:
Granted, it’s not very scientific – Bernie supporters are super-fired up – but it does mean something, since you’re allowed just one vote on TIME’s website. Nice work, Senator!
There you have it.