Sunny golden lemons have been decorating Bri’s and my ‘baby’ Meyer Lemon trees all winter. We have them growing in large pots. The trees need to be snugged up to the house for shelter on our bitterest winter days, when Alaskan air settles over the San Francisco north bay area (California) dropping temps into the high 20’s F on sparklingly clear, cold nights.
Intended to harvest the lemons in December or January…but grief had us immobilized following the wonderfully heartfelt memorial service Bri’s family and friends and bloggers created to celebrate her life. Takes a surprising amount of time to find emotional resources to follow through on one’s creativity after such a profound loss.
Bri raved about – and Marc and I are totally enthusiastic fans of – Meyer lemons for their rich fruity flavor and incredible aroma. Lemons are patient in a brightly bold manner, knowing they can’t be ignored for long. So dilly dallying as Bri never would have done and, only after I spotted a few being damaged by mold (what a waste!), I harvested them yesterday.
There’s no lack of yummy uses for these fruity jewels. A local Mediterranean restaurant, Pita Cafe (read Bri’s AUG 2007 review), serves a delectable Basil Vinaigrette salad dressing that Bill and I savor when we eat there. Decided to recreate that vinaigrette with my harvest.
In the olden days, when I was a teenager 40 years ago, my family’s ‘homemade’ salad dressings consisted of putting a flavorless salad oil (corn, safflower….maybe olive), a generic vinegar (apple cider vinegar, if we were inspired) and water along with a ‘Good Seasonings’ packet of dried herbs & spices into a sturdy pre-marked glass cruet, then giving it a thorough shake. How tastes have changed!
Using my ancient, still sturdy, ‘Good Seasonings’ cruet (can still be purchased in the spice section of your grocery store), I added (1/4 cup) organic virgin Olive Oil to V-mark (for vinegar), put in (1/8 cup) filtered water to W-mark (for water) before adding enough (5/8 cup) fresh squeezed Meyer Lemon Juice to reach the O-mark (for oil). Don’t despair, promise I’ll add proper measurements (see 3-19-09 edits) to this post once we’ve used up this batch of vinaigrette.
Even salad dressing proportions have changed over the decades with our preferences being a lesser proportion of oil and greater amount of lemon or gourmet vinegar to make the vinaigrette sparkle with flavor.
Next, I added the following herbs and spices after chopping 4 large leaves of fresh Basil into thin strips, followed by 2 drops of Young Living brand Basil essential oil (use much more fresh basil if you don’t have safe-to-eat essential oil on hand), 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper, add Sea Salt to taste…perhaps as much as 1 tsp. (It should be a salty dressing.) Prepped 1-2 big cloves of fresh Garlic (according to personal preference) by grating them with a micro-plane grater for max flavor and finished the dressing with 2 Tablespoons of Port Wine Balsamic Vinegar to add a bit of sharpness.
Then pour everything into a 500ml (2 cup) Pyrex measuring cup and whir the ingredients in gentle pulses with an immersion blender, being careful not to splash the dressing onto your kitchen counter or tabletop!
That’s it! Enjoy this bright fresh dressing on anything from leafy greens to a hearty potato or pasta salad or lightly steamed asparagus, broccoli, or summer squash.
3-24-09 EDIT ~ I’ve made this twice now. And it’s a ‘bit’ too tart on salad greens. Probably just right for potatoes or pasta. Maybe the extra vinegar isn’t necessary and/or a touch of sweetening could be used. Adjust to ‘your’ tastes and come back to share your variations.