Fresh Greens Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer Hannah Howard
By Hannah Howard

SCOOP DU JOUR is a weekly column by food enthusiast  Hannah Howard about eating, cooking, and exploring her way through New York. From a visit with the City’s greatest grocer to discovering the “umami” of love,  Fridays are packed with the unique flavor only Hannah can coax out of a culinary experience.

“Can you bring one of your salads?” my friend asks before her dinner party. “Of course I can. Salads are my thing, baby.”

It’s salad season. OK, it’s always salad season. I love me a winter salad with fennel and blood orange, topped with slivers of salty ricotta salata and dressed with crimson blood orange vinaigrette, or an autumnal veggie celebration of shaved Brussels sprouts, strewn with apples and walnuts, and maybe some fat pieces of bacon just because.

Take a walk through Union Square, or another greenmarket — our urban farm. Fiddleheads! Artichokes! Arugula and the vibrant-est of green goodies! Ramps and young garlic with twisty, wild stems (don’t miss out, these are over any minute, now)! Sugar snap peas! Spring has sprung. It’s been a long, brutal winter, and somehow, we’ve survived. Our reward: nature’s beautiful bounty.

Salad 628x628 Scoop Du Jour: 4 Salad Dressings for Salad Days
Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer Hannah Howard

A great salad is un-mess-up-able. All you need is some fresh, yummy veggies and a simple dressing. Don’t you DARE buy something from a bottle. If you have a good bottle of olive oil, you’re golden — that and sea salt make a fantastic dressing. Done. If you don’t have some quality olive oil, go buy some immediately. If you want to take one more step in the kitchen, here are some of my favorite dressing recipes. They’re all remarkably easy, and perfect for riffing on.


Classic Mustardy Vinaigrette


2 tablespoons of your favorite mustard
1 minced garlic clove
1 tablespoon parsley, or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand
Juice from half a big lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 tablespoons any good extra-virgin olive oil, whichever you love

Mix the first four ingredients well. Season to taste. Slowly add EVOO, whisking as you go. Now you have a tangy, lovely dressing suitable for whatever veggies you want to throw together and call a salad.


Buttermilk Blue


1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk the buttermilk with the sour cream. Mix in shallot and cider vinegar. Stir in the blue cheese. Season and smile.


Creamy Avocado Dressing


1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Place everything in a blender or food processor and whir until smooth. Yum.


Blood Orange Vinaigrette

(This is good with regular oranges, or cara cara oranges, too!)


1/2 cup blood orange juice
1 teaspoon blood orange zest
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons great olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix the first five ingredients well. Slowly add EVOO, whisking as you go. Season to taste.

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