Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy Days: Lemon Dressing

For the next six months or so, I Heart Cooking Clubs is focusing on the recipes of Jamie Oliver. I am very excited about this prospect, because Jamie's recipes tend to focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. What better chef to highlight during the April to September growing season?

Here in New England, it's not quite the growing season yet. We're starting to tuck pea seeds into the ground. We're beginning to look forward to fresh asparagus coming in within the next month or so. But, it's far from a bountiful time right now. As a matter of fact, I often think of the very beginning of spring as the worst time for produce around here. The apples from last fall have gotten mealy with age. The potatoes and garlic are starting to sprout. Yet, the early crops that we so look forward to--asparagus, fiddleheads, strawberries, and peas--are still a ways away. All the produce in the supermarket is shipped in from far away, yet we are so ready for the fresh, light tastes that come with warmer weather.

Ah, the warmer weather. THAT we are beginning to have. Yesterday, it was sunny and the temperature rose to the mid-60s. In our house, we turned the thermostat down to 50, opened all the windows and let the fresh air in. We celebrated the beginning of true spring (because, really, in New England, March 21 is just a date among dates--we know we have a few weeks left of winter weather yet to come).

This week's I Heart Cooking Club theme is "Happy Days," and yesterday was just that. While Jasper took his afternoon nap, Kurt and I sliced up a fresh (though far from local) salad. I baked brownies (that didn't set up, but that's a different story altogether), and we made two homemade salad dressings. We packed all of this up, in addition to a growler of homebrew, some biodegradable bowls, jars of bubbles, a playground ball, an armload of hula hoops and a blanket, and headed out of our local orchard. There, we met three other families from our play group for a potluck picnic and general frolicking.

We spent three hours at the orchard, chatting, eating wonderful food (Thai curry noodles, muffins, and many beautiful veggie pizzas arrived from the other families), playing, and drinking in the sunshine. I couldn't possibly think of a better way to spend a Saturday in early spring.

So, thank you, Jamie Oliver, for an extremely simple, but refreshing dressing recipe. Thank you, I Heart Cooking Clubs, for the perfect theme for the week. Thank you, to the play group, for the awesome idea for the picnic and the wonderful company. And, thank you, spring, for finally arriving. There are happy days ahead.

Jamie Oliver's Jam Jar Lemon Dressing
increased from this link
9 Tbs olive oil
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
a few grinds of sea salt
a few grinds of black pepper

Combine everything in a mason jar. Screw the lid on tight. Shake vigorously, doing a "happy spring dance," if you wish.


Kim said...

I love Jamie too and am very happy that he won the vote. This jam jar dressing is exactly the kind of dressing I turn to when I make my own. I'm doing the happy spring dance just thinking about it!

ARLENE said...

A simple lemon dressing is wonderful with avocado and cucumber with red onion. I'm going to try Jamie's version soon.

Deb in Hawaii said...

I saw this recipe and tagged it--it sounds so refreshing and good. Great pick for Happy Days. ;-)

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I love how generous Jamie is with the lemon flavour - he certainly doesn't shrink back from intensity!
Great to have a good dressing on hand - delicious!