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~ My Big Fat Greek Lemony-Garlic Salad Dressing + (Jeanne's Inauguration Day "Layered" Greek Salad) ~

6a0120a8551282970b019aff58cbc0970dThis is one of my favorite Fall-Winter salad dressings.  A few days ago I visited my parents in Eastern, PA and served a version of it to them and their guests with dinner.  Every time I make it, it gets gobbled up, and, someone asks for the recipe, so, here it is.  It's light, refreshing and full of bright, bold lemon flavor, which I enjoy during frosty days of Fall and dreary days of Winter.  It's particularly good on salads that contain seafood (crab, lobster, shrimp or scallops) or poultry (chicken, pheasant or turkey).  And, the first time I tasted it was a most memorable Winter day:

IMG_0230At Noon on January 20th, 2009, our nation celebrated a most historic event:  the inauguration of President Barack Obama.  Change is slow, but change had finally come and in a few short hours the first African American man and his family would be living in the White House.  Even though I was a Hillary girl (still am) until the last vote was cast, I recognized the importance of this inauguration and was excited to watch every moment of it.  

IMG_0229My best friend Jeanne and I decided to take the day off to watch the ceremonies live as they unfolded on my kitchen TV.  We carefully made our plans:  She and I were getting together at 10:30 AM, a bottle of champagne would be uncorked after the oath of office, a couple of other girlfriends would be joining us as the day went on, and our menfolk would pickup takeout Greek pizzas. Jeanne offered to bring her signature Greek Salad.

IMG_2339Everyone wanted to know what Jeanne's recipe was for the dressing.  After some coercing, she admitted she'd simply added 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 4 tablespoons sugar, 4 crushed garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon of Dijon to a bottle of Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing.  None of us would ever have guessed it wasn't scratch made, and, her secret would remain safe with us... temporarily. The moment you put 3-4 cooks together in one kitchen the conversation turns to food and this one turned to salad dressing.  By the end of the day, my assignment was to come up with a scratch made version of Gazebo Room Greek dressing.

PICT2715My Big Fat Greek Lemony-Garlic Salad Dressing:

1  cup red wine vinegar

1/4  cup lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil

1/2  cup sugar

1  tablespoon Dijon mustard

3-4  large garlic cloves, run through a garlic press

1/4  cup finely-crumbled feta cheese

1  tablespoon Greek seasoning blend

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1/4-1/2  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

~ Step 1.  In a 2-cup measuring container with a tight-fitting lid (pictured in the above photo), measure, prep and place all ingredients.  Shake vigorously.  You will have 1 1/2 cups of tangy dressing.  Set aside for 2-8 hours, at room temperature, to allow the flavors to marry.

Note:  If you want to make the dressing father in advance, store it in the refrigerator and return it to room temperature prior to serving.  Because this dressing contains fresh garlic, use it within 3 days, as after that, the garlic can begin to grow bacteria that can make make you ill.

Jeanne's Inauguration Day "Layered" Greek Salad:

IMG_23653-4  whole heads romaine "hearts" (about 12-16 ounces total weight), leaves torn into small, bite-sized pieces or cut chiffonade style (1/2" strips or ribbons), washed, dried (preferably through a salad spinner) and chilled until very crisp

1  cup very thinly sliced (shaved) yellow or sweet onion

1-1 1/2 cups  peeled and chunked Kirby cucumber (1 cucumber)

2  pounds extra-large shrimp (26-30 count), peeled and deveined, tails taken off, cooked or steamed

1/2-3/4  cup large pimento stuffed green olives, well-drained and cut in half

1-1 1/2  cups large black olives, well-drained and cut in half

1 1/2-2  cups grape tomatoes, cut in half

1/2-3/4  cups sliced banana pepper rings, mild or hot, well-drained

1 1/2-2  cups crumbled feta cheese, 6-8 ounces of cheese

freshly ground peppercorn blend

IMG_5428~ Step 1.  Cook or steam the shrimp in your favorite way.  You can find my method for perfectly cooked, sweet, succulent shrimp every time by reading ~ Once upon a time... A Tale about Shrimp Cocktail ~ in Categories 1, 11, 14 or 16.

Note:  To save time, in a pinch you can purchase peeled and steamed shrimp at your grocery store's seafood counter too.  It costs a bit more, but it still tastes great.

IMG_2372~ Step 2:  Place the lettuce in a large food storage bag.  Shake the dressing and add 1/2 cup to the lettuce.  Close bag and toss, to coat.

~ Step 3.  On a large platter/plate (not a bowl, this is a layered salad), make a bed of lettuce and layer all of the ingredients, in the order listed on top of the lettuce.  Serve immediately with the remaining salad dressing, at tableside. 

IMG_2380My Big Fat Greek Lemony-Garlic Sald Dressing + (Jeanne's Inauguration Day "Layered" Greek Salad):  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups dressing and 6-8 servings of salad.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; salad spinner; garlic press; 2-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid & pourer top; 2-gallon food storage bag; large platter or plate

Croutons & Toasts #9 (Finished Croutons)Cook's Note:  I usually serve this salad as a main-course with a loaf of crusty garlic bread and a bottle of white wine, but, in the event you'd like to top it with croutons instead, you can find my recipe for ~ How to: Make Croutons (& Toasts) ~ in Categories 2, 5, 9, or 15!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


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