“I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a can” – Gwyneth Paltrow (2011)
It occurred to me today, while queuing in the Post Office for the fourth time, that I wouldn’t have the first clue where to buy crack or cheese in a can. Is this what it means to be truly middle class? Seriously, what even is cheese in a can? Is it an American thing? If we are talking about this quite evidently revolting stuff in an aerosol can I can safely say that I am with Gwyneth on this one. If that makes me a New-Age Food Control-Freak Hippy then so be it.
I am also very much with Gwyneth on this excellent salad dressing. I have tried to concoct a few versions of this classic Japanese restaurant dressing in my time but this is the best one I have found so far. It was originally on the Goop website as part of one of her slightly bonkers detox plans and then appeared in a tweaked form in her cookbook, It’s All Good (a slightly misleading title if I am honest. It’s Mostly Good would be better. A lot of it is really great but some of it is a bit joyless and tastes, you know, beige. I actually prefer her first book overall, which is excellent if you want to eat more healthily but do something short of full gluten and dairy free).
It’s a double win this dressing – it is packed with good things like miso, carrots, ginger and shallot but also makes salad really appealing, which is not something I normally find myself saying. I had it for lunch on Saturday and may or may not have licked my plate clean. (I was at home on my own, OK?). It is also really good for dipping raw vegetables in or on cooked green beans and broccoli and keeps for up to a week in the fridge. Apparently kids really like it too, which I can totally see. Mine refused to taste it, obviously, because he is 2 and it is a New Thing Not Seen Before and therefore not to be trusted and quite possibly poisonous. It is good on all salad but particularly works with avocado and crunchy lettuce like Cos or Romaine. It might be nice on Iceberg too but I don’t know because I don’t eat it because it’s really just like eating cold water and what is the point in that?
I am totally aware that a salad dressing is a bit of a cop out and I know I owe you are PROPER recipe soon but the time spent in the post office/at the depot/on the phone to the post office/smashing my head into my desk today has somewhat precluded this. There is a lot of lovely stuff to come this week I promise (salmon tartare, homemade rye crispbreads, fruit & nut soda bread, the best ever roast chicken and a chicken satay rice bowl) and it will all be up just as soon as Royal Mail and I have worked through our issues. In the meantime, you can head over to Instagram and look at it all there!
GWYNETH PALTROW’S CARROT-GINGER DRESSING
(adapted from It’s All Good)
Crazy Ingredient Rating: Low (Miso paste and rice vinegar – but you can use white wine or apple cider vinegar instead of the latter)
I altered this ever so slightly from the original to reduce the amount of shallot (it already has a lot of kick from the raw ginger and I am not wild about too much raw shallot) and the toasted sesame oil as I find it can be really overpowering and would be too much in the quantity GP suggests (which is 1tbsp if you prefer to believe her over me).
I made a salad of red oak leaf lettuce, cucumber, radish and avocado to eat this with. Gwyneth suggests lettuce, tomato, red onion and cucumber but I feel she is totally missing out on the awesomeness of avocado here. It is a thick dressing that you sort of dollop on (see picture) so don’t freak out and add loads of water to thin it down – it is supposed to be like that.
I topped mine with the sesame-seaweed sprinkle that she suggests in her book (basically a couple of sheets of nori seaweed ground to a powder in a coffee grinder with a half tablespoon each of toasted black and white sesame seeds and some salt thrown in. Unless you happen to have these things to hand from a failed sushi experiment or something, and a spare coffee unused grinder – my sprinkle had a definite espresso twang to it no matter how well I washed the grinder – I don’t think you need to bother).
This makes about 300ml, which is enough for 4 grown up salads.
Put the following in a blender and blend:
- 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 small shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup (approx 20g) ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp white miso paste
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp raw light honey or xylitol (or whatever sweetener you are into)
- 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 4 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil like groundnut)
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
(As I didn’t have any neutral oil, I substituted the grapeseed oil for 2 tbsp non-toasted cold pressed sesame oil and 2 tbsp vegetable oil and added a tiny tiny tiny splash of toasted sesame oil to finish and even that was close to the line of toasted sesame acceptability).
Kitchen Song of the Day: Stuck Between Stations – The Hold Steady (Girls and Boys in America)