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Balsamic Lemongrette

November 8, 2010

The dressing, rich with herbs and a redish beat hue.

Most Lebanese flavors can’t just be store-bought in the U.S., so all of the traditional food my Lebanese grandmother (Mimi) makes is made from scratch, and her salad dressing is no exception.

Mimi has taught me how to cook a lot of great food, but it is her salad dressing that I make most often. . . well sort of. I grew up eating my mom’s version of Mimi’s salad dressing, and slowly over the years my own version of what tastes exactly best to me and my husband has been created. Like hummus and pita in Mimi’s fridge, I always have homemade salad dressing in my fridge, waiting to be brought out to accompany just about anything that needs dressing.

Dressings and sauces are so fluid and changeable, shifting slightly from time to time until you have a completely different kind of texture or flavor a generation later. Mimi’s salad dressing is vastly different from my current blend right now. She likes my dressing, but I’m not sure she’d necessarily associate it with hers!

Here’s my attempt at putting into writing the dressing that my husband and I make without measuring equipment. We like herb-heavy dressings and when we want a hot kick, we use a homemade pica-garlic paste (soon to be posted here).

Add two fistfulls this size of mint (In this case, dried from the garden.)

Our current blend is called Balsamic Lemongrette!

In a blender or food processor, combine approximately:
1/12 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 cup fresh extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs tahini

1 fist of fresh or 2 fists of dried peppermint

1/2 fist of fresh or 1 fist of dried oregano

This much thyme (dried from the garden)

1/2 fist of fresh or 1 fist of dried thyme

2 Tbs fresh ground cumin

3-4 cloves crushed fresh garlic

salt to taste

smidge of pica-garlic paste (link to come soon)

As an emulsifier we tend to throw in any mixture of veggies (instead of the usual mustard) that we’re already preparing for the salad. In the dressing pictured, we used about 1/4 of a large beat.

Now, taste it, and add more of the ingredients you’d like stronger. For a more accurate taste test, wait until the next day to taste!



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