How to Use an Un-recipe recipe, Part One

When you do The Plenty Method, you discover new freedom in the kitchen via “un-recipe recipes”. You’ll have a pantry packed full of scratch ingredients, called Master Ingredients, and a nice assortment of “flavor bursts” – concentrated flavorings that up-level your cooking from good to great. The variety of foods you keep on hand is dialed back – less is more in the case of your pantry – and immense creativity and ease arises out of this simplicity.

Most recipes call for exact ingredients and measurements. This can be quite restrictive and following recipes exactly is time consuming, too. They can also lead to excessive food clutter. Recipes often call for ingredients that you may never use again, so they tend to end up as food clutter then food waste. Using un-recipes avoids this. When you read recipes that call for ingredients you don’t have on hand, you learn to make substitutions with what you do have. If you are using “The Plenty Method”, your well thought out pantry gives you many options.  A simplified yet plentiful pantry takes much of the complication out of putting food on the table.

Here is an example of an “un-recipe recipe” – my favorite salad dressing. Why is this an un-recipe? Because you can mix and match the ingredients and create many versions. Over the years many friends have asked me for this recipe and I am happy to share it with you now.

The Very Best Salad Dressing


½ cup vinegar (l like aged-sherry, champagne, white and red balsamic)
1 tablespoon sugar (I use raw cane and demerara)
I tablespoon mustard (favorites are stone ground, Dijon and spicy brown)
Pinch of salt (any kind but iodized. It tastes terrible!)
1 shallot (if you don’t have one, use about ¼ cup diced any kind of onion)
1 clove garlic
1 ½ cups oil (my favorites are olive, walnut, rice bran)

Puree the first six ingredients in a blender. Then slowly add the oil and blend some more. Store in a glass bottle. Keeps for up to two months, refrigerated.

Lately my favorite version of this is made with sherry vinegar and half olive/half walnut oil and stone ground mustard. In the past I’ve used blood orange champagne vinegar. White wine vinegars are better with neutral oils, like rice bran (please see previous post) and dark vinegars are better with olive oil.

Make your own salad dressing with the best vinegar you can afford and increase your sensory pleasure and enjoyment of life!

So look at what you have on hand and whip up a batch. Once you taste this, pre-made dressings you buy at the grocery store will utterly pale in comparison. I use the money I save by NOT buying pre-made salad dressing to buy high-quality vinegar and oils. It takes just a few minutes to whip this up and the extraordinary sensory pleasure you’ll get makes the time spent so worthwhile. So there you have it – a real “un-recipe recipe”.

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