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.)

16 thoughts on “Bistro Salad for One”

  1. I feel like I am so sick of salads and your right it is that classic vinaigrette thing we get stuck in. This seems like an almost necessary change for me! Can’t wait to try it!

  2. Oooh this looks really good. When I saw the pic I was worried it was going to be mayo. But cream? I can deal with heavy cream. A little too well, maybe.

  3. I was going to get this book that you used because I am totally lacking the cookbook department. Would you recommend it? I was either going to get the Mark Bittman one, or Joy of Cooking. Thoughts?

  4. Amanda- I don’t have Joy of Cooking so I can’t speak for that one, but the Mark Bittman is great. I bought it about two weeks ago and have used it probably 10+ times already. Do you want one strickly Vegetarian? If not, he also has a great all-purpose cookbook, “How to Cook Everything.” I also love the Gourmet and Bon Appetit big cookbooks, as well as Madeleine Kamman’s “The New Making of a Cook.”

    Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

  5. This looks good for just what you say. My wife has school on one night a week and I find myself in a quandry as to what to make for one. I usually end up eating Mickey…well you know.

    I like this, but the waiting must be “the hardest part”.

  6. What Robin hasn’t told you is that at dinner I insisted we order enough to take Robin home a full plate — and yet she didn’t save any of the salad for me to try! I came home, carrying a bunch of her favorite sushi rolls, and discovered a salad plate, empty but for a thin layer of creamy dressing. Were I more prideful man, I would have beaten her. Instead — I’ll admit it — I licked the bowl. It was delicious. Look what she does to me. I’m wretched.

  7. I can speak on Joy of Cooking. I think it’s one of those essential cookbooks because it covers anything you can possibly think of. And it’s a great reference book too.

  8. this looks perfect. I would love for it to be just slightly warm. yum.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that pounced on your mention of bittman. LOVE HIM. I have the original how to cook everything and I don’t know what I would have done without it while trying to learn to cook. it’s a reference, a bible and it’s never far from reach. I assume the all veg one is just as good. the joy of cooking I’ve picked up and put back on the shelf more than once; I keep hesitating to buy it, but I really should.

  9. “Were I more prideful man, I would have beaten her.” And all her readers would have kicked yer booty! πŸ˜‰

    “Instead β€” I’ll admit it β€” I licked the bowl.” Ok, yeah, I can see that. While such a thing is totally pathetic, I’ve been there!

    “I came home, carrying a bunch of her favorite sushi rolls, and discovered a salad plate …” The obvious question would be, did you hide with the sushi rolls and eat them yourself? ‘Cuz I’d have at least given that action some serious thought!

  10. Robin- I am nota strict vegetarian but I don’t eat meat alot. I rarely have beef and pork and I probably eat the same amounts of tofu and chicken. So I could go either way. I wonder what the difference is in types of recipes included? You get more egg, pasta, bean recipes perhaps? But I always hear about how the Joy of Coooking is one that every cook should have… I’m so torn πŸ™‚

  11. I’m the same way. When I’m flyin’ solo, it’s either scrambled eggs or a bowl of cereal… But sometimes, you really do feel like treating yourself! This looks yummy :).

  12. nuthing like cooking for yourself. I rarely get a chance like that too. And i always opt for things i cant normally make when family is around.
    This salad looks really nice.

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