Creamy Med Salad Dressing
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
I hope you’re wearing green today, because if you’re not, PINCH! (That was me pinching you, if you didn’t get it…)
(By the way, make sure to read the beautiful excerpt by the recipe creator, Marina Yanay-Triner, as she talks about this recipe and how it connects to her childhood in Jerusalem, at the bottom of this post. It’s really gorgeous!)
Anywho! Doesn’t St. Patty’s day make you think about springtime and basically all things green and gorgeous? Blooming meadows of tall spring grasses and wildflowers, leprechauns, pots of gold, rainbows, four-leaf clovers, silly green plastic necklaces, that ONE green shirt in your possession, the vibrant-green rolling hills of Ireland…
I took a trip to Ireland with some friends a few years ago. It was absolutely breathtaking (maybe even breath-giving, rather?). The hostel scene was amazing because it was a vibrant mixture of all kinds of friendly, outgoing people from all over the world (although my bag of clothes DID get mistaken for trash and I was stuck in one outfit for half of my stay, no big deal). Walking around Dublin at night, we came upon a violinist-singer married duo playing in a cobble-stoned nook under a stone bridge, where the acoustics were amazing, playing their own rendition of “Always” by Bon Jovi. It was officially the most beautiful street music I had heard in my entire life. It was enchanting. I stood there, unable to move, while my heart was being filled in this incredible way. I was so deeply happy. It was like the music transcended into a spiritual experience.
We walked the old streets of Dublin, enriched our hunger for a backstory in the history museums, ate the sinfully rich food (Guinness stew anyone?), drank – a few sips of – Guinness at the factory, aided by a few pumps of currant-concentrate for our not-yet-acquired-tastes, saw the reddish-brown bogs in the countryside (acidic, swampy bush-land known for perfectly preserving a body from 2000 BC), the 12th century castle ruins in the Medieval city of Kilkenny, the natural beauty of Wicklow, the Upper lake in Glendalough, nestled in the valley between green rolling hills. Oh, those green rolling hills.
Even with all that beauty, the people were the best part. Friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Boy oh boy, I’m feeling a happiness contact-high just thinking about that beautiful island in the UK.
I know all the typical things we eat in America for this holiday; the standard corned beef, cabbage, and tons of potatoes because, you know, Ireland. But I think we could add something to the tradition that would help bring a fresh aspect to the hearty meal. Just a little refreshing side dish to brighten it up and add an acidic, bitter note to cut through the heaviest of the rest. And that dish, my friends, is an incredible GREEN salad with a brilliant GREEN dressing. Perfect for a green-centric holiday like this one.
The dressing is the real star of the show here. It’s creamy and salty with a touch of acidity. The avocados create this incredible texture, which you can augment based on how you like it. The capers, basil, and lemon come together to make the most extraordinary unique flavor. The creator of this dish, Marina Yanay-Triner of Soul in the Raw, likes to keeps it really thick so that it acts both as a component of the salad (almost like guacamole might be) and as a binder-sauce (like a thick salad dressing). I prefer it thinned out a bit so it’s more just a flavor enhancer and hydrator, lightly coating every last leaf. I also like to put it in a bottle so I can drizzle it on, all pretty-like.
Marina has really created something special here. It has a beautiful Mediterranean flavor that you may not have tried if you grew up in America as I did. Given that she was born in Ukraine, and grew up in Israel, she is able to bring the flavors from her childhood and homeland to her amazing dishes. Find more of those flavors in the form of delicious raw food creations in her website, Soul in the Raw, or through the Soul in the Raw Facebook page.
Here is what Marina says:
“When I was growing up, there were three foods I really couldn’t stand: Ukrainian fermented sour milk, beets, and avocados. Thankfully, I have awakened from one of these, and have even developed a slight love affair. Having moved to Israel, and then California, I have no choice but to adore avocados. They are the perfect replacement for butter in many recipes, as their creamy texture is quite similar to butter, and their taste, easily disguised.
Capers have become another favorite of mine. I used to pick them back in Jerusalem. They grow on the caper bush, and must be picked right before the bush blossoms with the most beautiful white flowers. The caper bush grew all around the old city of Jerusalem, and around my apartment. It would pop out in between the famous white Jerusalem brick stones, perhaps reminding us that life exists even in the toughest places to survive, much like in the old city of Jerusalem itself.”
“We would walk around the neighborhood of Abu Tour, which is the only co-habitant neighborhood in Jerusalem (where you can find both Israelis and Palestinians, though never in the same building) and pick capers. It would take a good few hours, as the capers are very small and we had to pick many to fill up a jar. Then we would pickle them, and their bright green color would change to a more subtle one, just like the store bought variety. In this recipe, you will find store-bought pickled capers, but of course, you can pickle your own too.
As I write this, I am reminded of that feeling of holiness on the streets of Jerusalem. A lot of hatred can be experienced on those streets, but a lot of mysticism, love, and divinity also.
This recipe is also inspired by the beauty that is the Israeli dinner table, and the Palestinian dinner table as well. Though we are technically at war with one another, our kitchens are still quite united. On both dinner tables, you will always find a beautiful and colorful salad, screaming of life and nutrients.
Even before eating raw vegan, I would always enjoy a salad at least once per day. The only difference is that today, salads are the main dish. This lovely salad dressing will transform any vegetables into a delicious, Italian and Mediterranean-inspired dish.”
- 1 soft, ripe avocado
- 1/8 cup lemon juice, or juice of ½ a lemon
- 1 garlic clove
- ¾ cup capers (the kind preserved by salt, rather than vinegar)
- 10 basil leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ jalapeño pepper, seeded for less heat (optional)
- ¼ cup water (optional) or enough to thin to desired thickness
- Run your food processor, and drop in a garlic clove to roughly chop.
- Drop in the rest of the ingredients, and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Add water to the desired thickness. It can be left thick as a hearty dip-dressing, or thinned into a liquid dressing.