Introducing Fresh by Midwest*
The trick with this recipe is plain, whole milk yogurt. My wife Ann and I got in the habit of getting the full-strength, full-fat yogurt during our bohemian student days in Europe. The only kind of yogurt those “cultured” Europeans eat, or would ever consider eating, is real, “cultured” yogurt: rich, creamy, healthy, heavenly with fruit and honey, definitely not a diet snack but just eat less of it!
We keep a big container in our fridge at all times. Whole milk yogurt sometimes is labeled “cream top” because it has layer of cream on top, which is stirred in. Only unflavored plain yogurt works for this dressing.
One day, when for whatever reason I decided that a creamy-style dressing might be better than one of my standard go-to vinaigrettes, I threw a tablespoon of yogurt in and stirred until it blended. Incredible – it added richness to the oil, a lively tang that played off the acid and enhanced the sweetness. Plus – yogurt is good for your gullet!
Then the inspiration — a simple threesome – olive oil, yogurt, and either lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Mix & blend. Simple. Sublime.
Our standard dressing for everyday salads, it’s even easier than the go-to vinaigrette. How simple is this?
Ultimate Super Simple Salad Dressing
Makes 1 Cup
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup whole milk plain yogurt
From 1/8 to 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar (add more or less to taste)
Mix and enjoy. No, seriously: it’s that simple.
Hint: The dressing emulsifies more smoothly if you start with the yogurt in a bowl, then stir in the acid (lemon juice or balsamic), then whisk in slowly the olive oil. Put it on a salad and toss.
Or try it this way: mix the olive oil and yogurt first. Watch the green olive oil swirl in to the deep ivory cream of the yogurt. Then add several generous dashes of balsamic and stir: suddenly it’s Deep Purple (Smoooke on the Wa-ter!).
Of course, you can add salt & pepper (a touch of salt does wonders for yogurt), crushed garlic, chopped fresh herbs, etc. I’ve been tempted, but leery, about adding Dijon or whole grain mustard, otherwise a key ingredient in every vinaigrette. But of course it’s possible.
But as De la Soul says, three is the magic number. Olive oil, yogurt, acid. Easy, tasty, healthy. Perfect.
*Editor’s note: Our latest contributor is Heidi’s son, lawyer and home cook Eric Schwab, who lives with his wife Ann Toebbe and their three children in Chicago. We’re keeping it all in the family here at Fresh by Northwest.