ORANGE-CUMIN SALAD DRESSING AND SOUTHWESTERN SALAD

by Oct 7, 2020

ORANGE-CUMIN DRESSING AND SOUTHWESTERN SALAD

As my daughter says, this a tasty dressing: “The orange comes forward with bright citrus notes, and the subtle cumin lingers on the backend”. She is a food snob, after all, but she is correct. It is easy to amp up the heat by adding more red pepper flakes, or even minced jalapeno if desired, but this version is mild enough for little ones with sensitive palates.  My 4-year-old granddaughter tasted the jicama in the salad for the first time, and decided it was good to dip it in the dressing. Maybe it was because her parents mentioned that she needed to eat more dinner before she could get to the Applesauce Cookies for dessert, but I like to think she loved my dressing, too.

My husband Allen absolutely loved salad to the point that I could count on him to finish up the last of everything in a large salad bowl at the end of any special celebratory dinner.  When we first married, I would serve salad and dressing separately at holiday happenings, birthday parties or football gatherings.  I always over planned, over prepped, and over presented the amount of food because I didn’t want to be short on food for family and friends.  After a couple of huge parties, I noticed that Allen simply added dressing to whatever was left in the salad bowl and completely finished off what was there before we finished clearing the table. After that I dressed the salad before serving because I knew I didn’t have to worry about storing soggy leftovers. 

ORANGE ZEST PERKS UP THE FLAVOR

Use a large orange to provide the fresh hit of citrus from zest and juice; I was able to get ½ cup of juice from one orange.  I suppose you could use fresh “orange juice with pulp” in a bottle from the grocery store, but I haven’t tried it.  Hmm, I wonder if that would work? If you try that, please let me know with a comment below. I have used dried basil and garlic powder and that also works, especially when you want a smooth dressing that doesn’t make children turn up their noses. 

This salad dressing easily emulsifies by hand because the Dijon mustard has the ability to absorb and hold together liquids (like oil and vinegar) that normally would separate after sitting. There is no need to bring out a blender or use a whisk until your arm falls off. Other emulsifiers include egg yolks, mayonnaise, honey, maple syrup and even tomato paste.  I think I need to experiment more with a variety of emulsifiers in my dressings—stay tuned. 

PICK YOUR FAVORITE SOUTHWESTERN INGREDIENTS

My idea of southwestern salad ingredients includes tomatoes, corn, black or kidney beans, cojita or queso fresco cheese, jicama, avocado, olives and sweet or spicy peppers.  I left out the jalapeno peppers because I knew my granddaughter would not eat jalapenos. Tortilla chips are also good to serve alongside or sprinkle on top. This salad easily transitions to a main dish with the addition of pork, chicken, salmon or tofu. I really enjoyed the lunchtime version the next day when I added some smoked salmon; the citrus cut the saltiness of the salmon.

No matter what you use, salads are beautiful, don’t you think?  I took so many pictures it was difficult to decide which ones I should use here. I did use some self-restraint considering I had 43 photos of this salad and dressing. 

ORANGE-CUMIN SALAD DRESSING AND SOUTHWESTERN SALAD

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Zest of one large orange (2-3 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (chive, cider, white vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped or 2 teaspoons dry basil
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon agave or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients in a glass measuring cup or bowl; stir until blended and well combined.   

Serve over greens with additional southwestern ingredients. Pick your favorites such as jicama, tomatoes, onion, olives, black or kidney beans, sweet and/or hot peppers, roasted corn, avocado, queso or cotija cheese, tortilla chips.   

Add protein such as salmon, pork, chicken, or tofu in order to make this a whole meal.

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