published Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Braly: Balsamic dressing tops for salads

The salads of spring don't need a lot more than beautiful lettuces and colorful toppings, such as red peppers, carrots and tomatoes, if you're lucky enough to find some with flavor. But to me, the dressing is still the most important part of a salad.

Since Pisa Pizza closed, I've been longing for its balsamic vinaigrette. I used to pick up a large container of it every now and then to take home, and it would last for quite a while. It was the best balsamic in town -- thick enough to stick to the lettuce and really tangy.

I've been at a loss for a similar recipe. Fortunately, Scott Courter, who owned the pizzeria, was gracious enough to send me the recipe. I am printing it as I received it, along with a couple of my notes for measurements.

Be forewarned: This makes a lot of dressing, but it will last in the refrigerator for quite some time. Or you can put some in a bottle and give it to a friend. Those in my family who have tried it thoroughly enjoyed it.

As a side note, I've been doing a lot of shopping at Aldi lately, primarily in the produce department where I can always find really big avocados for 89 cents each, as well as a beautiful container of lettuces for $1.98. They're the best prices I've found in town, and the quality is wonderful.

Pisa Pizza's Balsamic Dressing

Equal parts fresh basil and oregano, enough to fill to the top of the blade of a food processor

Balsamic vinegar

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1 tablespoon brown mustard

1/4 cup Egg Beaters

Extra-virgin olive oil

Place fresh herbs in food processor to height of steel blade. Add balsamic vinegar so that it covers blade. Add garlic, honey, salt, pepper, mustard and Egg Beaters; blend till herbs are very finely chopped and mixture is smooth. As you are mixing, add extra-virgin olive oil until the mixture thickens and turns a light brown color. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water. The mixture should fill up the bowl of the food processor.

Notes: If you know someone with an herb garden, oregano should be available. It will take about 2 packages of fresh basil unless you have it growing in your kitchen window. I ended up using about 20 ounces of olive oil. Also, after sitting in my refrigerator for a couple of weeks, the dressing became extremely thick. I didn't want to add water that might dilute the taste, so I microwaved it for about 1 minute, and it thinned it out perfectly.

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I'm sold on this idea because I'm always printing out recipes, not wanting to take my laptop into the kitchen when I'm cooking. This saves on printing. Now I just need a tablet!

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