Yes, I know. There is just something terribly ordinary about ranch dressing. So call me “ord” for short. Unlike some people’s incorrect perception of my culinary tastes, I am a devoted fan of ordinary food. Really fabulous ordinary food you realize, but still common and easily prepared or obtained.  I love burgers and mac and cheese and almost anything homemade. I’m actually uncomfortable in a restaurant when the entrée is over $30. I do dine at fancy restaurants, albeit infrequently, but only for special occasions. Then, while eating the “whatever”, I entertain myself by analyzing the cost of the ingredients in the dish or dishes I am eating. (And yes, I do consider the time it took to prepare the dish.) With few exceptions, I usually find that what we patrons are actually paying for is the bragging right. “We dined at Le Rip-Off Bistro last evening. It was marvelous, simply marvelous!”

If the food is actually amazing, I can forgive the price tag. Well at least a little bit. But if the food is mediocre, it not only depresses me; it makes me mad! Now, how fun is that? So I am usually better off dining at a restaurant where the food is good, but the term gourmet would never enter my head. So, having shared with you more than you ever wanted to know about me, let’s get on with this recipe.

The other evening, all I wanted as a side dish was a simple romaine and tomato salad with ranch dressing. So I proceeded with a basic recipe I had found in Sunset about 100 years ago, and added a couple of my own touches. The dressing turned out really, really good. Then we had our good buddies Jim and Margo over for dinner a couple nights ago, and I served the leftover dressing as a dip for crudité. (Just thought I’d use the cool French word for cut veggies just to prove I’m not totally lacking in culinary prowess! Don’t want to lose my gourmet fans after all!)

Anyway, enough blather. Just give this recipe a try. Use it as a dip or a salad dressing. Your choice. And if the mixture is a little too thick for the style of salad dressing you prefer, add a tiny bit more milk.

  • ½ c. sour cream (I use Mexican style)
  • 1/3 c. buttermilk (I use Bulgarian style)
  • 1 T. mayonnaise (I use Best Foods light)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. chopped dried chives, opt.
  • ¼ tsp. seasoned salt, or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small jar; whisk until combined. Adjust seasoning. Refrigerate until needed.



I love Cooking Light magazine. And this recipe is just one of the many reasons.

This dressing and how it is served is the inspiration of the magazine editor, Hunter Lewis. In his “note from the editor” in the May 2017 issue, Mr. Lewis writes that when he serves this salad, quote “even after I’ve spent hours smoking a pork shoulder or roasting a prime rib for a dinner party; it’s this dressing that friends ask me to send them the next day.”

So far be it from me to question Mr. Lewis’s friend’s judgement. So I gave the salad a try. And – oh my!  This is now one of the best ways I know to eat kale. (Not that it’s a task to get me to eat my kale. I love kale almost any old way. OK, I haven’t had a kale smoothie or whatever they call those green drinks that are supposed to be good for you. I feel I’m still too young to start ingesting my vegetables in blendered form. I’m saving that for when I get really old and necessity dictates that I no longer chew my food!)  

I first made this salad for a Carr family dinner a month or so ago and my sister-in-law Katie was especially fond of it. Everyone else at table enjoyed it too, so of course I had to share it with you all. So I put the recipe in a safe place so I wouldn’t forget to publish it at my earliest convenience. Need I explain further? Of course I forgot all about it until last evening when again the Carr family sat down to dinner and Katie asked if I had published the recipe. I automatically assumed I had, because my intension was to do so. But when I checked this morning, no such recipe existed on my blog. (It’s terrible when you can’t remember something as simple as whether or not you posted a recipe! Makes me wonder what else is escaping my notice. Anyone else over the age of required distributions from your IRAs having the same problem? If so, please let me know so I can accept my fate with equanimity. But enough about the trials and tribulations of aging, and back to this delightful recipe.

Now I know this dressing is perfect with kale, but I see no reason why it wouldn’t be just as delicious over an assortment of salad greens or drizzled over sliced heirloom tomatoes. So do not hesitate. Prepare this dressing and get ready for a fantastic treat.

And Mr. Lewis, please accept my thanks for sharing this recipe with all of us.

Your devoted fan, Patti

  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 T. drained capers
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 bunches shredded lacinato or curly kale (or a combination)  
  • 1 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese

Chop anchovy fillets, garlic, and capers in a mini food processor (or blender). Add the Dijon mustard, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt, pepper, lemon rind and juice, and olive oil; process for 1 minute. Adjust seasoning. (Not too much salt. Remember, the Parmesan will also add salt to the mix.)

Place kale and Parmesan in a salad bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat the leaves. (Do not overdress the salad.) Refrigerate leftover dressing.



Just when you think you have tasted every possible way to dress up plain old romaine (my favorite salad green by-the-way), along comes another salad dressing recipe that is off the charts delicious. I found this recipe by Monica Matheny while I was looking for a dressing recipe that had all the essential elements of Caribbean cuisine, but didn’t contain hard to find or expensive ingredients. I mean really, who needs pineapple juice or mushed mangoes in their dressing anyway? Not me! Give me an easy to prepare dressing and some crisp romaine lettuce and I am one happy rabbit. And since Caribbean food can be a bit spicy, a nice simple salad slathered with this dressing is the perfect side dish.

So the other evening when I made Caribbean Pork Stew (on this site) and served it over rice, this delicious salad was a perfect addition to the meal. As Alfred Hitchcock once said to his wife Alma when she asked him before a party if she looked OK, he answered “very presentable my dear, very presentable”. (Not the answer a woman wants to hear, but if you apply it to a salad to serve with other Caribbean dishes, it’s a perfect response.) This salad is indeed – very presentable.

So as they say in the Caribbean – bon appétit. (You were expecting something else? Nope! Most languages spoken in the Caribbean are either European languages (namely English, Spanish, French and Dutch) or European language-based creoles. English is the first or second language in most Caribbean islands and is also the unofficial “language of tourism”, the dominant industry in the Caribbean region. So of course you are going to hear – bon appétit, even if it’s French. It’s still the universal toast for – have a happy meal!)

  • ¼ c. fresh lime juice
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. granulated garlic
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ c. vegetable oil
  • 2 hearts of romaine, chopped

Shake the lime juice, honey, mustard, granulated garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper together in a covered jar. Add the oils and shake until well blended. Store in the refrigerator. When ready to assemble salad, place romaine in a salad bowl and pour on just enough dressing to lightly cover leaves.


When trying to decide which dressing would be best on a salad to go with a couple of rich pasta dishes, I decided I would serve my simple chopped romaine with a basic Italian dressing. I already had posted a really good Italian dressing on my blog, but I wanted something a little different. I wanted a more subtle dressing; a dressing that would be ever so light on the palate.  So I went on line and started researching “Italian Dressing”. The recipe you find below is my version of a dressing that has an abundance of flavor while still maintaining the “bearable lightness of being”. (Sorry Mr. Kundera for butchering the title to your acclaimed novel.)

So give this recipe a try. Just don’t limit its use to just green salads. I think it would work very well on a pasta salad, for example. It’s basically just a simple dressing that I’m sure your entire family will enjoy.

(And no, I did not include a picture of the dressing. I figured if someone wanted to know what Italian salad dressing looked like, they desperately needed a wild adventure in their life, i.e. a trip to their local grocery store!)

  • ¼ c. white wine vinegar
  • 2 T. water
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1½ tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. dried parsley
  • 1¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 T. finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ c. vegetable oil
  • ½ c. extra virgin olive oil  

Combine all ingredients in a covered jar and shake until emulsified. Serve on any salad of choice. Best allowed to come to room temperature before using. Better made a day or two ahead.



The other day I was planning to serve a very rich lasagna, and decided that what I needed to go with the lasagna to help cut through the richness from the meat, the sauce, and the inordinate amount of cheese, was a simple romaine salad with an acidic dressing. Not too acidic you realize, but with just the right amount of acidity. And this simple dressing that I have been making since I first discovered champagne vinegar about 10 years ago, immediately came to mind. It‘s one of those salad dressings that coats lettuce beautifully, without leaving it soggy. So a perfect salad dressing to dress up plain bite sized pieces of romaine.

While I’m on the subject of romaine, I think I’ll take the opportunity to expound on its many virtues. (Sometimes I feel romaine is underrated and not given the credit it’s due! So I intend to set the record straight right now.)

First of all, from a nutritional standpoint, romaine lettuce is a very good source of dietary fiber, manganese, potassium, biotin, vitamin B1, copper, iron, and vitamin C. It is also a good source of vitamin B2, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, phosphorus, chromium, magnesium, calcium, and pantothenic acid.

Plus, it’s crunchy. (In my book, one of its most redeeming qualities!) And it’s a fairly dark green. (And green is my favorite color. So duh!)

Now I know, many of you are really into the gourmet lettuces. And I understand. I love them too. But when I think salad, I think crunch. And I’m sorry folks, spring mix by itself just does not crunch! Neither does rocket (arugula) or red leaf or any of the other popular soft leaf varieties! And I am still of the school that strongly believes that salad must crunch! To be a proper salad, that is!

So what I am really advocating, in case you haven’t already figured it out, is that romaine lettuce is the bomb! And although you may use other lettuces in your salads as I often do, romaine should still be there to provide that crunchy element necessary to make your all greens salads perfect. (And yes, I love salads with just greens. I also love salads that contain almost all the contents of my refrigerator and pantry. But let’s save that type of salad for another day!)

So if you too love an easy and delicious salad, give this dressing a try. Combined with beautifully perfect bite sized pieces of romaine lettuce, there is just about nothing finer to serve with a rich main dish. Honestly, I promise that you will not miss your darling little leaves of gourmet lettuce. You will also love the fact that you have not spent your paycheck to enjoy a salad that has nutritional value and tastes like it was prepared by the chef at Canlis!

So have fun with this dressing. It is almost fool proof and can be dressed up in any way you choose. Add it to a mixed vegetable salad, a kale and blue cheese salad, or on top of your favorite Cobb salad. Just make it. It’s easy, inexpensive, and perfect. Enjoy!

  • 3 T. champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • romaine lettuce or a variety of lettuces including romaine

In a small bowl or covered jar, whisk or shake together vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic. Add the olive oil and either whisk or shake until the liquid is emulsified. Adjust seasoning. Store in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before adding to greens of your choice. 





I love salad, and for quite some time now I have been envisioning a creamy salad dressing with Parmesan cheese and peppercorns having the starring roles. So recently when I needed a simple salad to go with an Italian food themed dinner I was planning, I figured there was no time like the present to work up a recipe for the dressing I had been imagining.

I knew the dressing had to include vinegar and olive oil. But the creaminess I was seeking could only be achieved if I included mayonnaise. My problem then was – how not to taste the mayonnaise. (Don’t get me wrong, I love mayonnaise. But I really didn’t want mayonnaise to be the predominant flavor.) So I started with the vinegar and olive oil, and added mayonnaise a tablespoon at a time until I achieved the consistency and flavor I wanted.

So what I came up with is a dressing that tastes a lot like Caesar dressing, but not quite. It has an intense Parmesan and peppercorn flavor that works perfectly with simple romaine. Add a small amount of thinly sliced red onion, and you have a very simple salad to prepare, but one that packs a lot of flavor. And luckily, the dressing works great with just about any greens or veggies you might have on hand.

So do yourself a favor. Build some of this dressing and use it on any of your favorite combinations of greens and chopped vegetables. Or if you are feeling completely uninspired some evening, try this recipe as written. (Some nights just lend themselves better to letting someone else supply the creativity while zombie like, you follow the recipe instructions as given.) Believe me, I get it. I have had more of those times than I care to admit. Just get the dinner on the table, and be done with the whole thing! And yes, before you ask, I still have evenings like that every once in awhile. Now granted, not as many as when I was a working mommy, but there are still times when cooking dinner and cleaning the bathrooms are equally abhorrent! Those are the times I set myself on cruise control and rely on muscle memory to find my way around the kitchen. Actually in retrospect, some of my best meals have been executed by the automaton that lies within! Perhaps I should give this side of me free rein more often. I’m sure Mr. C. would appreciate dining more often on food he has previously enjoyed rather than always being subjected to yet another new recipe I am trying to perfect. I’ll think about it. Let you know what I decide. But for now, I will continue bombarding you with my new and other peoples’ fabulous recipes until I can no longer stand the sight of my BlueStar range. Sorry honey.

  • ¼ c. white wine vinegar
  • ¼ c. mayonnaise
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • lots of coarse ground black pepper
  • 6 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • chopped romaine
  • very thinly sliced red onion

Whisk together the vinegar, mayonnaise, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until mixture emulsifies. Gently stir in the Parmesan. Adjust seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before mixing with romaine and red onion. Serve immediately.

Note: This is a potent dressing, so error on the stingy side when dressing the greens. You can always add more dressing as needed.




Caesar salad is a classic for one very good reason. It is flat out delicious. And when you make it at home using fresh ingredients, it is especially delightful. And I know Caesar salad appears on just about every menu in America. So why (you ask yourself) should anyone bother making it at home, when it can so easily be ordered in a restaurant. Well my dear friends, the answer to that question is easy; because you can make it even better and healthier at home.

When you build your own Caesar salad you control the amount of salt in the dressing, the ratio of dressing to romaine, how much Parmesan to add, and the amount, if any, of croutons you want to use. Of course you won’t be ingesting any of the preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients from the bottled dressing and purchased croutons a restaurant uses, but I’m betting that’s not going to worry you too much!

Now for some people who want to just eat a big old salad for lunch or dinner, but would like to add some protein, the addition of chicken or salmon is the perfect solution. Most of the time when Caesar salad is offered in a restaurant, the chicken is grilled or the salmon is blackened. Both of these preparations are wonderful. But instead of the more traditional way of cooking the chicken or salmon, I like to bake it. I find that the meat is routinely moist when I bake it in a hot oven. Then just before serving, I slice or dice (the chicken) or place the whole salmon fillet right on top of the mixed salad. Serve with a lemon wedge or two, and as they say in jolly old England – Bob’s your uncle!

BTW: I provided my two favorite recipes for Caesar salad dressing below. Both are truly wonderful. I simply prepare one or the other depending on the ingredients I have on hand and whichever dressing appeals to my capricious taste buds at the time. However you dress this salad, you are in for a taste treat.

Also, every part of this salad can be prepared ahead of time. The lettuce can be cleaned and kept in the refrigerator a couple days before it is needed. The dressing can be prepared up to 4 days ahead. Grate the Parmesan at your leisure and just pull it out of the refrigerator when needed. The croutons can be made a week ahead as long as they are completely cool when you place them in an airtight container. And even the chicken or salmon can be prepared ahead of time. Just make sure it is room temperature before it is served.

  • romaine lettuce, cut, washed and spun dry (you really want to start with dry lettuce so that the dressing adheres to each leaf)
  • Caesar dressing (just enough to coat the leaves, but not so much that the salad appears and tastes “wet”)
  • grated Parmesan cheese (I have found that using less than you think you need is probably just about right. Too much Parmesan overpowers the other flavors and makes the salad too rich.)
  • croutons (as few or as many as you like)
  • sliced or cubed chicken or a small fillet of salmon
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges


  • 1 lg. garlic clove, finely minced
  • 6 anchovy fillets or 1-2 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 T. sour cream
  • ¼ tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil

Combine garlic and anchovy fillets or paste in a small bowl. Mush them together with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and whisk to blend thoroughly. Use immediately or refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before mixing salad.


  • 1 T. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ tsp. anchovy paste, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • scant ½ c. vegetable oil
  • ¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese

Place mayonnaise, mustard, chopped garlic, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in the bowl of an electric food processor. Process until smooth and well blended. While the food processor is still on, very slowly pour in the vegetable oil. Blend until thick and creamy. Add Parmesan cheese and pulse 5 or 6 times.


Chop up some small bite sized pieces of a chewy, artisan baguette. Place in a frying pan with butter or olive oil (or a combination) and sauté until each crouton is dry and crunchy. (This takes about 45 minutes because you need to go low (heat) and slow.) Add more butter or oil as needed. When desired crunchiness is attained, sprinkle with granulated garlic. Allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container.

SAVORY BAKED CHICKEN OR SALMON – based on an Ina Garten recipe

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for basting
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 T. dry white wine
  • zest and juice of 1 regular sized lemon
  • pinch dried oregano
  • pinch dried thyme leaves
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 2 salmon fillets

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and just a small amount of black pepper. Pour into a 9×9-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts or salmon fillets dry and place them over the sauce. (If you are using a piece of salmon that has skin on one side, place the fish skin side up in the sauce.) Brush with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts or fillets. Do not over-cook. (Remember, salmon cooks faster than chicken, so set your timer accordingly.) Remove the cooked meat from the oven and cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil; allow to rest for 8-10 minutes before slicing, dicing or serving whole over the prepared salad. (Remember to take the skin off the salmon before serving.) For the final touch, I like to drizzle a little bit of the baking sauce over the meat. Yum








Since re-reading “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle, I am still happily researching food from the South of France. Having visited France twice already, I have firsthand experience of the many culinary delights that are intrinsic to French cuisine. (I do however need a lot more empirical study, so I think another visit in the near future is absolutely necessary!)

This recipe for a simple vegetable salad is just beyond belief delicious. The anchoïade dressing is so full of flavor, yet it doesn’t overpower the veggies. (And yes I know, it takes a lot to overpower radishes, fennel, red onion, and radicchio. But none the less, these veggies together with the dressing make for just a wonderful mouth experience.)

And don’t worry about the number of anchovies used in the dressing. Unless you truly have an aversion to the hairy little beasties, you are not going to find the flavor too intense. (And no, anchovies are not really hairy. They’re really more fuzzy than hairy!)

So do yourself a favor and make this salad next time you want to brighten up your dinner menu. The flavors are just exotic enough to be special, while at the same time, the ingredients are readily available at most grocery stores. And while you are eating this salad, imagine yourself in the South of France, dining al fresco under a late afternoon summer sun. And served along with the salad – local cheeses and sausages, a soft and creamy pâté, fresh baked bread, a variety of olives, young red wine, fresh fruit, and a pear tart for dessert. Now if that doesn’t sound like heaven, I don’t know what does!

  • 1 small tin or jar anchovies in olive oil or 8-10 anchovies, if you buy your anchovies in bulk
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 T. finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 T. walnut oil
  • 1 T. capers washed of brine
  • freshly ground black pepper – just a grind
  • pinch of kosher salt, if needed

In a small pan over low heat, melt the anchovies gently in the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute. Allow to cool. Transfer into the bowl of small food processor and add the vinegar, walnuts, walnut oil, capers, and black pepper. Whirl until smooth and emulsified. Add salt if needed.

Thank you Celia Harvey from Cuisine magazine for the bones of this wonderful dressing recipe.

  • 4 stalks celery with leaves (tender pale stalks only), very thinly sliced
  • 4 radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, peeled of tough outer layers, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 hearts of romaine, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 small radicchio, thinly sliced, opt.
  • 1 T. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Combine all the fresh veggies and toss with a goodly amount of the dressing. Serve immediately.




The other evening I wanted a salad to go with my pasta main dish, but I didn’t want a Caesar or my usual “mixed lettuce and clean out the vegetable bins” either. What my frugal mind wanted was to use up some simple vinaigrette I had prepared earlier in the week. What my mouth wanted was a bit of pizzazz. So I decided to raid my refrigerator shelves and pantry to see what I could do to liven up what often amounts to “the obligatory, good for us so we need to eat it” part of our dinner menu.

First thing I did was pour the already prepared salad dressing into the bottom of a bowl. Then I got out what looked like a nice assortment of tasty ingredients and went to town. The following recipe, which actually turned out to be totally delightful is what I came up with. (I just love ending a sentence with with. It just seems wrong, but I’m told in informal writing, ending a sentence with a preposition is considered de rigueur.) But I digress…

Basically, you can always add taste adventures to your salads by including a variety of ingredients (including a wide variety of greens) that will help lift the overall flavor from mundane to exciting. Some of my favorite “additives” are: nuts and seeds of any kind, dried fruit, olives, minced ginger (an especially healthful ingredient), apple or pear chunks, roasted veggies (especially beets), roasted red pepper (right out of the jar is fine), sliced peperoncini, and of course cheese. By all means use this list as a guide, but don’t limit your choices to just my favorites. Think outside the salad box.

My salad adventure the other evening started with leftover Dijon Mustard and Rice Vinegar Vinaigrette.  And because I don’t really have a favorite dressing, I decided to share several of my easy vinaigrette recipes with you on this post. And do make your own dressings. They are easy to prepare, economical, and truly much more flavorful than what you can purchase in a bottle. You can also control the amount of salt and sugar you are adding to your salads by preparing your own emulsions. So that makes homemade dressings a healthy choice too. So give these dressing a try. All are wonderful ways to make lettuce taste good.

And don’t forget to use kale in your salads. Learn more about this amazing green under the heading Massaged Kale.

  • 3-4 T. salad dressing – your choice
  • 1 c. loosely packed chopped kale
  • kosher salt
  • ½ carrot, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 small celery stick, chopped
  • about ¼ c. thinly sliced red onion
  • ¾ inch piece fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 3 slices of zucchini cut into matchstick sized pieces
  • 2 pickled peperoncini, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 c. chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/3 c. slivered almonds

Pour the salad dressing into the bottom of a salad bowl. Add a tiny amount of kosher salt to the chopped kale. Using your fingers, massage the kale* for about 3 minutes or until the leaves darken and feel almost silky. Add to the salad dressing along with all the other salad ingredients, toss lightly and serve immediately.

*Massaged Kale – Kale is a strong flavored, bitter green that can be used other than in the more traditional way, as a wonderful ingredient in soup or stew, if is first treated with a little tender loving care. And as in all things that need a little massaging to render them more acceptable (stubborn personalities for example), kale loses it’s bitter and tough pre-disposition and turns wonderfully silky and sweet when the fibrous ribs have been removed and the leaves have been rubbed (massaged) together with your fingers. (Kale can be massaged either just as is, or by adding just the smallest amount of salt.) The leaves turn darker as the tough cellulose structure breaks down. The leaves actually wilt under the pressure. After this amazing transformation occurs, kale becomes perfect for even the lightest of summer salads.

And don’t even get me started on the nutritional value of kale. Well OK, but just a wee bit of information.

According to the WebMD site, “one cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients. Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds. Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.”

My favorite vinaigrettes: 


  • ¼ c. vegetable oil
  • 2 T. sesame oil
  • 4 tsp. white vinegar (the regular old fashioned distilled kind)
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice (the kind that comes from real fruit)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the oils, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper.


  • ½ c. red wine vinegar
  • 2 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 T. finely chopped shallots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T. thinly sliced fresh basil
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ c. extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together.


  • 1 T. drained and mashed capers
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T. finely minced shallot
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together.


  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ c. rice vinegar
  • 1/3 c. canola oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth.


  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. minced shallots
  • ½ c. extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and shallots. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until emulsified and thickened. Adjust seasoning.


  • 3 T. raspberry vinegar
  • 3 T. honey
  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch kosher salt

Whisk all ingredients together.


  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. finely minced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 Tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tsp. poppy seeds
  • ½ tsp. seasoned salt

Whisk all ingredients together.


  • scant 2 T. sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together the sherry vinegar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until emulsified and thickened. Adjust seasoning.







There are as many recipes for Caesar dressing as there are recipes for brownies. All seem to be pretty good, but some are worth writing about. And the other night I prepared a Caesar salad dressing worthy of its’ own blog posting. Plus it was ever so easy to prepare.

But before I go any further, I would like to tell you about one of my favorite kitchen tools. I first witnessed what this amazing ¾ quart food processor could do at the home of our dear friends Paul and Angela. Paul used it to whip up some kind of sauce and then proceeded to tell me that I simply had to get one for myself. (I already owned one of those cheap mini food processors that were all the rage about 15 years ago, but along with sounding like a 747 warming up, it didn’t work worth a damn!) So the thought of buying another mini food processor, especially one that cost over a hundred dollars just didn’t appeal to me at all. But because Paul told me I had to have one, I went out the very next week and purchased one for myself. (Always must listen when someone as qualified as Paul gives me culinary advice!)


Well I have never regretted for one single minute the cost of my Waring Commercial Pro Prep Chopper-Grinder by Cuisinart. It’s small, easy to handle and works ever so efficiently. And my ear drums don’t take a “beating” each time I use it. (Only the ingredients I put in the prep bowl take a beating, and a pretty fair one at that!) Also it’s easy to clean. (I really like that part.) And for someone like myself who lives for good salad dressing and savory sauces, there is simply no better helper on the market. And yes, I do have a big food processor. But mixing a small salad dressing in a large food processor is like using a bath tub to wash 2 potatoes. Just way over-kill.

So do yourself a favor. If you are the kind of person who always uses minced fresh garlic, fresh herbs, fresh ginger, etc. in your recipes and for whom salad dressings and sauces are part of the very core of your being, get thee on to the internet and purchase one of these fabulous beasties. Better yet, let your honey buy you one for Valentine’s Day. But be forewarned. Internet is probably the best way to find one of these food processors. They simply aren’t sold in most small appliance stores because they are more of a specialty item and most often used in commercial kitchens. So in other words, they can’t be purchased at 11:00pm on February 13th! But not to worry, I’ve given you plenty of time to provide your loved one with the necessary information to order one of these amazing kitchen tools long before Valentines’ day. I promise you will not be disappointed, unless of course you are one of those people who think receiving a kitchen tool for Valentines’ Day is barbarian. Then of course, you wouldn’t have mentioned it in the first place. Duh Patti! But for those of you who do appreciate practical gifts, this is a sure fire winner. As is this salad dressing recipe, I might add.

  • 1 T. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • scant 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese


Place mayonnaise, mustard, chopped garlic, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in the bowl of an electric food processor. Process until smooth and well blended. While the food processor is still on, very slowly pour in the vegetable oil. Blend until thick and creamy. Add Parmesan cheese and pulse 5 or 6 times. Makes enough for about 4 servings of salad.

Caesar Salad: Combine the dressing with really cold chopped romaine lettuce, additional grated Parmesan cheese, and homemade Garlic Croutons. Serve immediately.

Garlic Croutons: Chop up some small bite sized pieces of a chewy, artisan baguette. Place in a frying pan with butter or olive oil (or a combination) and sauté over low heat until each crouton is crunchy. Add more butter or oil as needed. When desired crunchiness is attained, sprinkle with granulated garlic. Allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container.