Variations on a Theme
Artichoke: Add a fresh artichoke heart or 2 canned artichoke hearts (about 3 ounces), and replace vinegar with 1/4 cup lemon juice; puree in a blender until creamy. Serve on frisée lettuce, or use as a glaze for fish by basting during and after grilling.
Tomato: Add 2 Tbsp. tomato juice and a dash of Tabasco. Serve on Israeli-style chopped salad: Cube tomatoes, cucumbers and red bell peppers, and mix with diced onions. Scoop onto a romaine lettuce leaf; garnish with a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Honey: Add 2 tsp. honey. Serve on hearty winter greens like escarole, or use dressing as a glaze for pork or poultry while it cooks on the grill.
Cheese: Add 2 ounces or more Stilton cheese and puree in a blender. Serve on a salad of frisée, mixed greens, radicchio, endive and arugula, topped with sliced pears and toasted walnuts.
Citrus: Add 1 tsp. orange zest and 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice (or substitute lime or grapefruit). Stir in 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper. Serve on poached or grilled fish such as salmon, cod or sea bass.
Herb: Add 1 to 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley, tarragon, mint, basil or chives. Serve on a salad of shrimp, haricots verts and mushrooms, or combine with a mix of cherry tomatoes and scallions. Dressing can also be used to baste grilled shrimp.
Walnut: Replace 1/2 cup olive oil with walnut oil. Serve on a salad of baby arugula, toasted pine nuts and goat cheese. Note: Because some people have severe allergies to nuts, always let your guests know you are serving a nut oil.
Truffle: Replace olive oil with 1/4 cup truffle oil and 3/4 cup vegetable oil. Serve on a delicate salad of butter lettuce leaves or mâche topped with a slice of foie gras and dried fruit, such as figs. This also goes wonderfully over steamed asparagus or baby potatoes, sliced toasted almonds, and haricots verts or peas.