Maybe the weather has turned too cold to think about crisp salads, but there are a lot of greens at the local farmers markets and, with rich holiday food lurking around every corner, plenty of incentive to eat light meals these days. Pair a salad with a warm bowl of tomato soup or some pot roast (or Houston's perennial favorite, short ribs), and you're able to lighten up a hearty, warming meal. And while you're at it, why pay $4 or more for a bottle of salad dressing? Make your own. There are limitless possibilities from any recipe, and you can control the fat content, which is another way to cut calorie corners in the Fat Fortnight around Christmas and New Year's. Here's one basic recipe:
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or balsamic or white wine or champagne ... you get the idea)
2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on your love of antioxidants and/or garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
6-8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, depending on your preference for piquancy
Whisk all the ingredients together, and there you have it. Versatile and quite robust, this dressing can double as a sauce for pork or chicken. The mustard and black pepper also pair well with tannins in bigger red wines, so this can make a nice accompaniment to big meat dishes. You can also substitute lemon juice for vinegar or any other acid that is your preference. The mustard and relatively low oil content makes the emulsification on this dressing easy, and it holds for days.