Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Salad Dressing

Normally, I don't care for salad.  I don't like lettuce, really.  It's endless and watery and really kind of tasteless. 

But then, this weekend, one of my students brought me a gift.  With a giant grin on her face, she hefted a black plastic bag up the steps of my veranda and dropped it into my arms.  

"Great!"  I said.  "Thanks!"  Then, trailing off, I examined the contents of the bag. "Thaaaanks," I repeated, more slowly this time.  

It was no less than five pounds of lettuce. 

I'll admit that my first reaction was to give it all away.  I heaped greens upon my neighbors, offering multiple bunches to multiple families, days and days in a row.  But there's only so much lettuce that you can give to your neighbors before they reach a point of saturation.  I gave away a good four pounds before I realized that I had no choice but to eat the rest myself. 

Unfortunately, this meant... salad. 


Making a salad in Mozambique is a real bother.  Everything needs to be rinsed and bleached and then rinsed again.  Considering the fact that I don't even like salad, that seems like a lot of work for a big pile of leaves.

The good news is, though, that everything is organic.  All vegetables are organic and fresh and grown locally, by default. So a Mozambican salad is healthy, even if it's slightly bleachy and a real pain to make.

Fresh, local, and cheap

But even the freshest, juiciest salad is kind of bland without dressing.  And I had no way of procuring dressing whilst at site in Mozambique.

I had no choice but to sit and think.

Until that point, it had never occured to me that I could make my own salad dressing.  To me, salad dressing was one of those things that only came pre-packaged.  Like Twinkies.  Or cereal.  Certain, things, I thought, simply couldn't be made by the average, normal person.

Apparently, I was wrong.

A quick scan of the Internet revealed thousands of recipes, from the complicated "Basil-Walnut-Lemon Juice Puree" to the rather more reasonable "Simple Vinaigrette."

After a few minutes in the kitchen and some vague experimentation, I am proud to admit that I produced my own first-ever homemade salad dressing.  And it was pretty good.

A simple salad dressing using only five ingredients

Though this recipe could be added to or detracted from at whim, the basics of this dressing are as follows:

Simple Salad Dressing

1 part white vinegar
2 parts oil
A pinch of pepper
A pinch of salt
A fat squeeze from a honey bear, smuggled from the States

Combine ingredients in an old jar and shake.  Ta-da!  A simple salad dressing.

The final product

Really, it's quite good.

We've since eaten through the pound of lettuce, and gone to buy another.  I wouldn't say that I love salad, but I've become more open-minded.  The dressing, I'll admit, covers up the taste of bleach.


  1. I'm so glad you found a dressing you liked. We would handwash every piece of lettuce with soap so we didn't have to use bleach. I had the best lemon/limey salad dressing I've ever had while I was in Cambodia and I tried to recreate it more than once with a big fat fail.

    1. Haha- We've been known to wash individual leaves with soap, too! I tried to avoid bleach for as long as possible (almost one year), but I finally gave in.