I set out to make a small salad to supplement our dinner of leftover fried chicken (yum, yummy, yum). I began with various lettuces, growing in my “garden” (read pot, sitting on my patio table), then, because they looked lovely, I picked a few snips of fresh herbs as well as fragrant chives to layer over and toss within. I found myself boiling an egg, which sounded, yum; perhaps because I had just purchased sweet Canadian shrimp meat that I was toying with setting on top (of the salad). A small handful of baby tomatoes, sliced, slowly began building it up, mushrooms (thinly cut) and corn, (shaven from it’s cob). A large crumble of blue cheese (Pt. Reyes, Oregon) mashed into a bowl of freshly squeezed lemon juice, ground pepper and green onions dissolved lovingly into a puddle of buttermilk. When we sat down with wine poured and ready to dig in, the ensemble looked rather large and I said, “Looks like the big salad”. Tom, being who he is, pulled up this clip on his phone (or click here for a short version). Enjoy!
Buttermilk Bleu Dressing
Freshly made bleu cheese dressing is a bleautiful thing, it is not only great for dipping, with carrots, cauliflower and fried chicken (or fried gizzards for that matter) but is also a nice way to enjoy a salad of crispy greens on a warm summer evening. No hydrogenated, overly processed ingredients required.
Full disclosure: I have made this for years and have, at a few points in time, written the quantities down as I make it but…this is not one of those times and I am just guessing here…. As with most dressings, it does (loosely) conform to the typical rules:
1. Use a 1:3 ratio of acidity to fat.
2. Garlic and onions are well served soaked first in the acidity, even if just for a few moments prior to adding in the rest.
3. Taste, adjust, taste, adjust….instinct.
3. Salt, pepper & sugar are to taste. If too salty, add more acidity, if too tart, add more sugar.
4. Whisk the fat with the acidity to emulsify. Adjust consistency as desired.
Specific to this dressing rules:
1. The buttermilk, bleu cheese and sour cream will knock out the typical 1:3 ratio rule but as a rule of thumb, I would use 1 TB sour cream and 1 TB lemon juice for every 2-3 oz cheese. The buttermilk is used to thin the dressing and quantities can be altered depending on your desired thickness (perhaps 3-5 TB for 2-3 oz cheese). Also, I always use low-fat buttermilk since that is more readily available to me.
2. If using shallots, soak them in the acidity (lemon juice), if using green onions, add them in at the end. Use more green onions than you would shallots (perhaps 1 TB chopped shallots for 2-3 oz cheese)
3. Soft herbs are good in very large quantities (and multiple varieties). This go ’round I did not put them in the dressing, as I usually do, but rather tossed them in with the lettuces (the dressing keeps longer this way + I was lazy).
Diced shallots or chopped green onions
Fresh ground pepper
Raw sugar to taste
Good quality bleu cheese
Mix of fresh soft herbs, chopped
Combine the lemon juice with the shallots, fresh pepper and sugar (just a pinch to start).
Crumble in the bleu cheese and mash with a fork. Add the sour cream and mix well. Drizzle in the buttermilk to thin and bring the dressing to the desired consistency. Mix in the herbs.
“Big” Bleu Shrimp Salad
This can be as little or “big” as you like (and no, Dad and Linda, I’m not referring to “big blue” the suburban).
Mixed lettuces (from your garden if you have), cleaned and patted dry
Hard boiled egg, peeled and cut in half (1/2 per person)
Cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters (2-3 tomatoes per person)
Crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced (1-2 mushrooms per person)
Freshly grilled corn, removed from the cobb (1-2 TB per person)
Green onion and mixed soft herbs, chopped (even if you added to the dressing)
Fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste
Buttermilk Bleu Dressing to taste (see above for “recipe”)
Squeeze a little lemon juice over the lettuces then lightly sprinkle some sea salt and grind fresh pepper over. Carefully toss with your fingers (you may toss some dressing in too, if you like, but be gentle and stingy so as not to make soggy).
Divide the lettuces among individual plates. Spoon over a few bits of dressing then layer on the vegetables and pile the shrimp meat in the center, slightly scattered; place the egg half on one side. Sprinkle with green onions and herbs and grind over more pepper, if desired.
I used to swear by our (local) Oregon shrimp meat that can be had fresh, for a short bit of the year. I have been having a harder and harder time finding it to be as fresh as I would like (it is delicate, for sure) so one day, on the recommendation of my trusty fishmonger’s at Gemini Seafood, I purchased the Canadian shrimp meat. It is as delicious and sweet as they said!…some day, I’ll have to tell you the story of how Ginger became our head “shrimp-tester”. Until then, just know that she endorses this statement (and will be telling everyone over at the Novice Gardener’s shin dig. For sure she will let Selma, Hilda and Indu (the co-hosts) know about these yummy shrimp (and for now, we will offer this to Angie as the elusive “blue fish”).