Classic Salad Dressing


Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Ground Pepper (optional)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Jar with a Lid or Bowl with Ladle


Use at least three lovely fat garlic cloves. To peel them: lie a clove down on a chopping board and tell it what a beautiful fat thing it is.

Three fat garlic cloves Then take a broad knife, lie it flat (at the wide part near the handle) over the clove. Using the heal of your hand, give it a good hard smack (on the flat part of the knife). This will release the skin from the clove with no fussy stuff. As you cut off the stem end, the skin will fall away. When all the cloves are ready, put them together and dice them.

This is the easiest if you hold down the small end of the knife against the board and use a chopping action up and down like an office paper cutter, except you will have to use a fanning out pattern. Gather the cut pieces again from the board and the blade, and put them into a pile. Do it over again and again until it is all finely diced. Knife chopping

Next, put the lovely pile all together. Enjoy compliments as to how wonderful the kitchen smells. Now, do not say, "Oh, it is only garlic." Just smile sweetly and say, "Thank you!"

Pouring salt Back to the garlic. Pour a good amount of salt on the pile ... yes, a lot, like a dunce cap. It is always best to use sea salt for eating. Earth salt is for cleaning cast iron pans and killing slugs in the garden.

Okay, back again to the garlic with the salt hat. Use the flat part of your chopping knife to press the knife against the garlic and salt, using your fingers for pressure (do not break the knife tip). Use a back and forth smashing motion as you slowly work into the pile. Collect what you have smashed back into the pile you are working. You are now making a classic garlic paste. It is also great on oiled chicken. You are about to become a Kitchen Deity. From garlic paste comes Life itself!

When it is done, put it into your container. I never favor plastic (since it's a petroleum product, it is oily and it could leech out the flavorsome molecules). Glass or china are good, but it will need a lid or ladle for mixing. Next, put in the olive oil. A classic proportion is 2/3 oil and 1/3 vinegar, but when you're using Balsamic vinegar (which is strongly advised) about half and half is good. This is because it is a less acidic vinegar, but do it to what tastes good to you.

So now there is garlic paste and oil in the container. Now is the time to add any other herbs or spices which are pleasing. If your ingredients are the good ones, you do not really need anything except fresh ground pepper. If you do not have the best ingredients, I always add basil, oregano, and parsley.

Jar with garlic paste and oil

Jar with pepper and herbs Pour 1/2 teaspoon or so of each herb (do not measure ... that is not real Cuisine!) into the palm of your hand. Then rub it hard between your palms as it goes into the container. This releases the essential oils which are hiding inside the dried herbs.

Now, if you have a good grocery store nearby or a nice garden, you can put in lovely fresh herbs, like basil, oregano, lemon or pineapple sage, and parsley chives. They can go right into the salad, too. Yum! Include their flowers if you have them.

So we've reached the apex of the dressing-making experience. Before adding the vinegar, shake the oil well with whatever is in it. Another nice change of flavor is to add a little of that wonderful French Dijon style mustard into the oil. Mmm ... great with steaks all on the same plate! Shake it up, baby! Add the vinegar as described.

Shake it up jar

Shake it again.

Cha, Cha, Cha
Now pour a wee bit into a cup to perform the taste test. Do not use a spoon. Kitchen deities always do this test with a finger. Anyone who is around can opinionate, if it pleases you.

Then it is done ... almost. First, bless it with love and then it can go to the table or salad bowl.

You can now bask in the glow. Furthermore, now that you know the rules you may do as you please with this formula. This is true of cooking, music, literature, art and ... it is the Essential Rule of Life.


(c) 1997 Daniela D. Wyatt

Daniela co-owns and runs Perly's Restaurant in downtown Richmond, Virginia. Having traveled all over the world, she has enjoyed many cuisines. Since starting Cordon Bleu cooking classes, Daniela feels that learning the basics of cooking, as opposed to following recipes, is the key to having fun (and success) in the kitchen. "Find out what the rules are first, then do what you darn well please" is her life motto.

If you enjoyed Daniela's witty, essay-style of recipe-writing tell her via e-mail at seller@sellerdoor.com.

Updated 6/6/99 by sellerdoor.com