Delicate and robust at the same time, freshly-picked greens are one of the most refreshing foods on the planet. And this is the time to eat them–gardens and farmers markets are full of tender lettuces and other greens right now. They soothe the body with all their vitamins and minerals. This simple, yet flavorful yogurt-dill dressing enhances the greens without overpowering them.
Homemade salad dressings are so much fun to work with, because you can be as creative as you want to be with them. A general rule of thumb is to use a ratio of one part acidic liquid (like a vinegar or lemon juice) to about three parts oil (like olive oil or vegetable oils). A prepared Dijon mustard, though not necessary, adds flavor and helps bind the oil and acidic liquids together. You can also play around with herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, and creamier agents like Greek yogurt or buttermilk. The possibilities are endless! Just adjust the levels according to your tastes.
The yogurt dill dressing I am sharing today is loosely based on a recipe I found in the inspirational Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts by Aglaia Kremezi, though I made some changes to reflect my own tastes. That is the beauty of homemade dressings. You get to be creative, and you don’t need tons of time or complicated ingredients to make a wonderful accompaniment to fresh greens. This dressing is gently creamy with the heavenly flavor of dill. I love the smell of dill, and I am in heaven chopping it. If you are not a fan of dill, or want to try another homemade dressing, I posted a recipe for a simple, tangy dressing last spring.
The poet in me is always looking for symbols and finding metaphors and multifaceted interpretations of different aspects of life. As I was thinking about the tender greens that are so delicious this time of year, I started making connections with a couple of moments that have touched me and stuck in my mind this past month. I realized that those moments revolve around tenderness as well. Tenderness has to do with softness, freshness, and gentleness, but also with vulnerability. It has to do with caring for others in their vulnerability.
A couple weeks ago, on a warm and sunny afternoon, my kids and their neighbor friends were having a water balloon fight. They had a great time, and got all wet and cooled off. When they had used all of their balloons, they were winding down and getting ready to move on to another activity. My six-year-old neighbor friend came up to me, gave me a bucket, and said, “here.” Without my even asking, she and her brother and my two kids had gone through the yard and picked up all (or almost all) of the broken balloon pieces scattered about, and put them in the bucket. She told me they picked up the pieces so our dog would not eat them and choke on them. I was so touched that they had gone to all that effort to take care of our dog, all on their own. You can tell a lot about people by the way they treat those (animal or human) who are more vulnerable than themselves.
In the same week, I attended a funeral for a friend’s father. This was difficult and poignant for me, because I lost my own father a little over a year ago. But I wanted to be there to support my friend, since I had an idea of what she was going through. I sat with my mother and a mutual friend of ours. At the end of the ceremony, there was the usual hand-shaking and hugging and showing of support that is so important to those going through loss. When our mutual friend gave our mourning friend a hug, I witnessed an act of complete tenderness. Her embrace and the look in her eyes was that of unguarded caring and kindness. So often we go through our days covered in a protective shell of busy-ness, politeness, or irony. It is rare to get a glimpse of raw tenderness, especially in adults. I felt privileged to witness such authenticity, such caring in the midst of pain and loss. It made me realize how that caring and tenderness is often there, even when it is not visible, and how important it is to express it.
What does all this have to do with food and salads? Nothing and everything. We are all vulnerable or tender in certain areas at certain times. It is the tenderness of others that helps us through that. I often see food as a way of showing others that I care about them. We all get hungry; we all need to eat. Food is something we all have in common. And sometimes the most natural and authentic food soothes and refreshes us best. Sometimes a salad with raw, tender greens and homemade dressing takes care of the heart as well as the body and soul.
I cannot believe it is Friday again already. This has been a really quick week! Since it is a Friday, I will include this recipe in Angie’s awesome Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Dini at Giramuk’s Kitchen and Mollie at The Frugal Hausfrau. I hope you all have a refreshing weekend!
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon plain Greek-style yogurt
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Wash greens, pat dry (or dry in a spinner) and tear into bite-sized pieces. Wash and chop the dill. In a glass container with a pouring spout, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and yogurt. Add the olive oil gradually, whisking as you add it. Whisk in the dill, and the salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Feel free to adjust levels of ingredients–the taste will vary depending on the particular vinegar and oil you use. Pour the dressing lightly over the greens. Add any other vegetables you wish to the salad. Enjoy!
This recipe is loosely based on a recipe found in Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts by Aglaia Kremezi