Seasoned Salad Oil

Cold, crisp salads are very popular fare when the mercury climbs to unbearable heighths. A lot of times, that's all we want to eat when the weather is sweltering as we've recently been experiencing. If you use a vinegar based salad dressing though, it's going to clash with any refreshing white wine you pare it with. A combination of vinegar and wine makes rumblies in your tummy that you won't like. It's like mixing milk and oj. Get the picture?

It's still possible to enjoy a glass of vino with some greens, however. You just need a dressing that does not use vinegar. Fresh lemon juice mixed with oil can do the trick. It's so easy and economical to whip up your own dressings at home and it's the trendy thing to do--get back to the basics.

When you make your own, you know what's in it, too--no additives, no preservatives, no food coloring, no sugar--in short, nothing suspect and all healthy for you, of course! To make a good jarful of Seasoned Salad Oil , you'll need:

2 cups                 virgin olive oil
2 cloves               garlic
2 stems                fresh basil with leaves
1/4                    lemon, juiced
pinch                  black pepper
pinch                  salt

Please use the juice of a fresh lemon and not that stuff they sell in a bottle. I don't know what they do to that liquid, but to me, it sure does not taste like lemon juice. Place all the ingredients in a jar and let set over night so that the flavors mingle.

Just before serving, pour it into a blender or food processor and whip it up. Serve it over a nice mixture of bibb lettuce, spinach, roasted red pepper strips and grilled eggplant slices with a wedge of your favorite goat cheese. Left over dressing will keep nicely in the fridge.

Now all you need is a checkered tablecloth, a loaf of French bread and some wine. Try the Guenoc Sauvignon Blanc from California. This winery used to be owned by the actress Lillie Langtry a century ago. They still produce delightful wines. This one is soft and fruity. And as always, a good cook appreciates nature and what it has to offer.