Salad dressing? Oh, much more than that!
First of all, I NEVER buy salad dressings. Never say never? Well this time I say it with fearsome pride. If you’ve got a blender or a fork to stir oil and something acidic, you’re set to defy the limits of the salad dressing aisle and cast off that loathsome cloak of unhealthy serfdom.
This time my salad dressing adventure began with my curiosity over tomatillos. Don’t remember using them in a recipe. Of course, copious quantities of fermented grape juice may have dulled the memories. Or perhaps it was memories…..well, let’s leave it at that and just say it was memories I’ve learned to block out, as well as their names and how they cruelly broke my ever hopeful heart.
But, back to tomatillos. Little green tomatoes, si? Well, kinda. Same family, but are all siblings the same? A solid no, and especially not in the nightshade family! Tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants, potatoes, petunias, chili peppers, paprika, tobacco, and even some deadly siblings, such as the belladonna, join together in one unhappy clan.
Tomatillos, also known as Mexican husk tomatoes, are native to Mexico and have been cultivated since the pre-Columbian era. Pre-Columbian? you might well ask. Yes, for engineers and math majors, pre-Columbian refers to the time before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. We’re talking all the waaaaay back, into the deep pre-history of the B.C. days.
Yes, yes, I hear the complainers at the back of the room whining, so, leaving your knowledge incomplete, I’ll move on to the recipe.
Tonight, I wanted to make a tomatillo salad dressing, but found that I stuffed so much in the blender that I’d concocted a cross between a sauce and a salad dressing. So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if you make this delicious…whatever you wish to call it…you’ll find it goes well on salad, or roasted vegetables, or roasted meat, or (depending on the consistency you desire), even makes a splendid dipping sauce for crisp tortillas.
Now we’ll really get down to it!
Heat oven to 425ºF
3 Tomatillos, husk removed, then sliced in halves
1 Jalapeño, cut in half and seeds and stem removed
1 Poblano pepper, cut in half and seeds and stem removed
½ of a large, sweet onion, roughly chopped
1 heaping teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
Juice of 6 small tangerines (or more to taste)
½ Cup olive oil
One strong handful of fresh basil
One strong handful of fresh cilantro
1 level Tablespoon of salt (or more to taste)
4 Tablespoons honey (or more to taste)
Puttin’ it together: Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place the first four ingredients on the sheet and sprinkle with paprika. Roast for about 20-25 minutes (every oven is different) until the vegetables are beginning to char.
Put all the ingredients (including the charred vegetables) in a blender and puree. Add more olive oil as needed to get the consistency you want.
Taste and add honey and salt as needed.
For the salad, mix several varieties of lettuce, cabbage, celery, bits of peeled tangerine, and anything else your heart desires. I like to add a few cashews to give it some extra crunch.
This will make about 3 cups of salad dressing. Put any remaining dressing in the frig. Pat yourself on the back, grab another cup of vine juice … makes the heartbreak easier to live with!