Bistro Salad for One

Every once in a while, Jim and his mom go out to a weeknight dinner alone. I usually spend this time relaxing in the apartment, reading quietly or watching some Food TV. I rarely cook. Sometimes all I’ll eat for dinner on these nights is a few pieces of my favorite cheese or a bowl of cereal. Cooking, for me, is best when done with an audience.

Last night, however, I felt like treating myself. Nothing grand, nothing too substantial, but something that tasted delicious and a just a little bit elegant. Realizing that salads can get the shrift during my dinners, since I mostly resort to my good (but done-before) vinagrette with mixed greens, I opted for a fancy-smanscy (yet still quite easy) creamy bistro dressing.

I’ve never made a salad dressing that involved stove-top cooking before, so I was excited to try this out. Shallots shine in this dressing; the cream masks their pungency to make the perfect subtle onion flavor. Since it’s a creamy dressing, I created a salad of crisp greens, paper-thin cucumber slices, celery that has lost some of it’s crispness in the fridge (oddly enough, that’s how I like my celery in salads) and skinny coins of carrot. The hardest part about making this dressing is allowing for it to cool before coating your salad with it (but it is a must.) If you really can’t wait for it to cool, you could use the dressing as a sauce for warm veggies, or slather it onto a good french baguette.

Creamy Bistro Dressing

makes about 3/4 cup//from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • good honey
  • 1/4 red wine vinaigrette
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add shallots and a drop or two of honey and saute until the shallots are beginning to color. Add in the red wine vinaigrette and let it boil for a few minutes. When the vinaigrette becomes a bit syrupy, whisk in the cream. Bring it just to a boil, whisking, and then lower heat and let it cook for a few more minutes, to thicken. Cool, cover, and chill for about an hour. (I actually chilled it about 30 minutes; since my greens were very cold, the slightly warm dressing helped temper the salad.)