“Tory, will you make me the Julia’s dressing?”
This is what my mom would ask every time I went home for the weekend before my parents cruelly moved away, abandoning me forever.
“Oh, you mean the dressing I got you the recipe for that you’ve never made yourself? Sure.”
And then I’d make it, because I love my mom.
Here’s the deal with Julia’s vinaigrette. Five years ago, Mother’s Day fell during my college graduation. Between packing up my dorm room for the last time ever and making it through my last finals ever, getting a Mother’s Day gift fell by the wayside. Until I had a lovely and, honestly, self-serving idea.
Julia’s was a great little lunch spot in “booming” downtown Sewanee (population 2,000). Perfect for when the dining hall got to be too much or when your parents were in town. The main dishes were delicious, but what always blew my skirt up were the simple side salads with this vinaigrette. And in the spirit of “like mother, like daughter,” my mom felt the same way.
(Succulents by @atleezer. What should we name her succulent business, guys??)
So, for Mother’s Day, I hopped on good old Facebook to message Julia’s and ask sweetly for the vinaigrette recipe. I promised not to share it with anyone, but as Julia’s is now defunct and was operated in a tiny little college town somewhere between Nashville and Chattanooga, I don’t feel bad sharing. That, and they gave me the recipe very freely.
It’s very easy to make (especially is you have a food processor) and goes with everything. I use it on hefty vegetable salads like this, but it’s also great with just greens, nuts, and cheese. A favorite of mine is arugula, pine nuts, cucumbers, and parmesan.
I made this salad as a side for penne and meatballs, but it makes the perfect lunch if you add chicken and/or a hardboiled egg. Nuts are always a great addition, too. And I’ll tell you what I learned in 6th grade health that has always stayed with me: the more colorful the food, the more nutrients! Now don’t you feel smarter and healthier already? You’re welcome.
Mom, sorry I’m not there to make this for you anymore, but now you can stop texting me for the recipe every time you want to make this! Seriously. Stop texting for the recipe.
(Also for you, Mom, a picture of your grand-dog enjoying the sunshine while I make our favorite vinaigrette.)
Garden Salad with Julia’s Vinaigrette
Yields about a cup
1-2 large garlic cloves
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
A pinch of sugar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2/3 cup canola oil
Greens (any kind you want and any amount you want for the number you’re serving)
- For the vinaigrette: In a food processor, pop in the garlic and blitz until the garlic is minced. About 15-20 seconds. Add the sugar, salt, and pepper and blitz again for a few seconds. Next add the white wine vinegar and blitz again. Leaving the processor running, add the canola oil slowly to emulsify. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed, and set aside. (Alternatively, mince the garlic by had, add the salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar, and whisk in the oil to emulsify.)
- For the salad: Add the greens to a large bowl. Slice or dice your vegetables any way you prefer and add them to the top. Crumble your feta over that. Drizzle as much vinaigrette as you prefer over it all, toss, and dig in.
*For this meal the salad I made could serve 3-4 people as a side.