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About Garlicky Basil Dressing
by Andrea D'Amore
This recipe gives me a chance to reiterate a point I was trying to make to some friends the other day that were arguing with me about the “cost” of my food choices. There point was that $6.54 for organic salad dressing is just outrageous, to which I agreed, and replied “that’s why I make my own for a fraction of the price.” I was quite pleased that by the conversation’s end they could see that making a lot of your own foods from bulk ingredients, that can be used in other dishes, is cheaper AND healthier than the pre-packaged versions.
Another reason why you should choose to start making your own salad dressing is that there are many healing properties associated with the fresh herbs and ingredients used to make them, especially this one. First, umeboshi vinegar comes from the pickling of umeboshi plums. Oriental Medicine regards these plums as one of the best preventative remedies available and recommends eating one a day for it’s effects of promoting digestion and detoxifying the body. The vinegar carries on many of those properties. Additionally, the vinegar has an alkalizing effect on the body, as mentioned earlier by Leslie.
Alkalizing foods bring our body back to a natural pH after it has become acidified by sugars, chemicals etc. This is important because an acidic blood pH is an environment that promotes chronic disease and tissue necrosis.
We also receive many benefits from the use of olive oil. For instance, EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) has an incredible anti-inflammatory effect on the body and also contains a polyphenol called hydroxytyrosol (HT) that works on the genetic level to protect our blood vessels. Basil also offers a number or nutrients and phytochemicals that are anti-inflammatory, promote cardiovascular health and have anti-bacterial properties. It is also considered a good pretty good source of vitamin K, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium.
Cardiovascular benefits also come from the garlic. With compounds that dilate our blood vessels and keep our blood pressure low and sulfur-containing compounds that protect against unwanted inflammation and oxidative damage combined with the powers of basil and EVOO, I think we have ourselves a “heart-healthy” salad dressing - if that isn’t a novel idea!
Lastly, by making your own salad dressing you can avoid the loads of preservatives, artificial colors and flavorings, gluten, soy isolate, and MSG found in many bottled versions. You also do the earth a favor with less packaging and did I mention it’s delicious, easy and fun!
Garlicky Basil Dressing
by Leslie Cerier
Makes about 1 cup
I like the combination of umeboshi vinegar and garlic in this dressing. Umeboshi vinegar isn’t technically vinegar (though it can be used like vinegar); it’s the tasty liquid left over from the process of pickling umeboshi plums. It has a salty and lemony flavor and can be substituted for those ingredients in many recipes, including hummus. Unlike acidic vinegars, it has an alkalizing effect on digestion. This “vinaigrette” will lend a lively flavor to salads and is also great on cooked sorghum, quinoa, or pasta.
6 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
8 garlic scapes, or 8 cloves garlic
Put all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings if desired.
UMEBOSHI VINEGAR: For those of you who haven't pickled any Umeboshi plums lately, you can find a bottle of Ume vinegar here.
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About the Cook
Leslie Cerier, “The Organic Gourmet” is a chef, author, environmentalist, educator and photographer.
Leslie specializes in local, seasonal, whole foods and organic cuisine that are not just good for you, but pleasurable and delicious. Cerier is a pioneer and national authority on wheat-free baking, the entire spectrum of whole grains, and cooking with wild foods. Leslie teaches exciting “hands-on” vegetarian cooking classes worldwide. Leslie’s creative approach to culinary nutrition blends delicious whole foods that nurture your health and vitality, enhance the immune system, keeps your bones strong, rejuvenates your senses, and helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle, while lessening your carbon footprint. Leslie’s students and private clients discover nourishment as a means of self-expression, creativity and power. Leslie is a consultant and recipe developer for Organic Food companies and individuals.
Leslie is the author of five cookbooks: Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook, A Seasonal Vegetarian Cookbook (New Harbinger Publications Inc. 2010), Going Wild in the Kitchen (Square One Publishers, 2005), among others.
Please visit her website at www.LeslieCerier.com.