Giving our immune systems a good boost is especially helpful during cold and flu season, but is beneficial anytime of year. I learned this simple salad dressing recipe from a Lebanese family when I was in middle school. It’s so incredibly good, I remember not being able to get enough of it. Whenever I make it now, I still feel the same way. I’ve realized that the ingredients to one of my favorite simple salad dressings (this one) also happen to be good for your immune system. Why? The fresh lemon juice is a great source of Vitamin C. Garlic is known to strengthen immune function. Antioxidants like Vitamin E, found in olive oil, help your body fight off illness. Even the minerals in (unrefined) salt are good for immunity!
Picture by Jeff, who said “Can I see the camera? This angle would be great!” That was right after Bracken started sprinkling salt in the container of olive oil and I said “No! Let me get a picture first.” Taking pictures for the blog can be an entertaining family affair.
Immune Boost Salad Dressing
You’ll notice this recipe doesn’t call for particular amounts of any ingredient and that’s one thing I love about it. It’s an intuitive recipe and turns out a bit different each time, according to what your palate prefers that day. I like to start with the lemon. Cut it in half. Juice it. (We have a glass citrus juicer, similar to this one. A stainless steel one like this looks great, it even strains your seeds.) Remove the seeds in your juice. You can use a half lemon or a whole lemon, depending on how much salad dressing you want to make (or how much you love lemon!) I use a whole lemon. Then add your olive oil slowly to your lemon juice. Stop. Stir it. Taste it. Like the ratio? Or too sour? Add a little more olive oil. Stop. Stir it. Taste it. (I really prefer doing this with my finger, but that’s when I’m serving it for my family who doesn’t mind when I do that. Don’t worry guests, I’ll spare you my finger stirring.) Continue in that manner until you are happy with the ratio. I say to add it slowly because once you add too much olive oil you can’t go back (unless, that is, you want to add more lemons.) Personally, I like the ratio to be heavy on the lemon juice side, making my mouth pucker. However, it’s too sour for my family that way so I add more olive oil.
Once you’ve got that ratio to your liking, add some salt. Our favorite salt is Himalayan Crystal Salt (this is the best deal we’ve found, by the way) because it contains so many nutrients, but any real salt will be just fine. (Don’t go for that refined salt, you need the minerals for it to be good for you! I guess I should make a sidenote here and say the quality of your ingredients are important. For flavor, for health, and for the earth too. How much of an immune boost are you going to get if your ingredients are loaded with pesticides? Know what I mean? Organic is a good way to go for so many reasons.)
Now that you’ve added the salt… just enough saltiness? Okay, time to add your garlic. (Oh wait, before doing that, though, I’d set some garlic-free dressing aside for Bracken because raw garlic is too spicy for his taste buds at this point in his life, though considering his parents the odds are pretty good that fact will change in time. So if you are serving a salad to kids who feel similarly, you could either add baked garlic, which makes the flavor less intense, if they like that, or some garlic powder. Bracken doesn’t mind garlic powder and it’s our best bet for getting the healthy benefits of garlic to him.) Alright, now back to making it for garlic lovers. Get out your handy dandy garlic press. Who are you serving the salad to? How much garlic do they like? A few cloves would be nice. I know people who don’t react well to too much garlic, so that’s why I mention that. Or if you are a garlic maniac you can go crazy and load it up. (I told you I like my mouth to pucker with the lemon. I also like the sensation of my face getting hot from the garlic. It’s so good that way. But these days I scale it back a bit more than in my young wild days. Ha!)
Stir it all together with the pressed garlic. (Finger optional.) Stirring is an important kitchen ritual that makes things taste better when it’s done more than is really necessary, in my opinion. (Especially adds a lot of magic to soups, I’d say.) Pour the dressing over your salad. Fork it up. Yum. Enjoy your delicious salad, with an immune boost to boot! I especially love this flavorful dressing in the middle of winter. Oh, and be prepared for some wonderful garlic breath. It’s good for you.