Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

It's official.  Today is the first day of summer.  Mother Nature definitely got the memo too.  It's a sweltering 101 degrees in Sacramento today.  Seven months pregnant, shuttling two rambunctious boys between gymnastics and the park this morning, I was reminded how brutal this summer was going to be.  By the time we got home, they still had energy to burn, yet I was struggling to find enough to put lunch together.  

Needless to say, by the time dinner rolls around, I am pretty much tapped out.  If I'm being totally honest, my energy isn't the only thing wearing thin by 5:00.  Carrying around a bowling ball in my stomach, chasing after a tireless three year old boy, while doing all the other million and one tasks a mother must do, all while enduring the oppressive heat,  have my patience at an all time low too.  So when I tell you that by the end of the day preparing dinner feels like a burden, that is the understatement of the century.

On Sundays, when I sit down to plan the meals for the week, easy is not only ideal, it is a requirement. During the long, hot days of summer I have a tendency to make a ton of salads for dinner.  They are quick, refreshing, and usually don't require turning on the oven.  This summer in particular, with swollen fingers and ankles, and the addition of lots of extra lbs, I am resorting more and more to salads.   As I've told you before, my family is nuts about Mexican food, so on salad night- you know there's going to be a Mexican inspired one.  Tonight's is a fajita salad, chock full of black beans, cabbage, red bell peppers, avocado, and a slough of other ingredients inherent in Mexican cuisine.  I often dress it with a scrumptious jalapeno ranch dressing, but I was in search of something much lighter.  Enter cilantro-lime vinaigrette.  I put cilantro and lime in the salad anyways, so it made perfect sense.  This is the end-all, be-all of vinaigrettes as far as I'm concerned.  I use it not only to dress salads, but as a marinade and sauce for chicken, shrimp, and grilled fish, and as a dressing on a whole grain and black bean side dish I make ( I will post that recipe tomorrow!).  It is delicious and versatile which makes it a perfect staple to add to your summer menus.

Cilantro- Lime Vinaigrette

1/4 c fresh squeezed lime juice ( no lime juice out of a squeeze bottle please!)
1/3 c chopped cilantro
1 T cumin
1 T honey
2 T rice wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c canola oil
salt and pepper

Place lime juice, cilantro, honey, vinegar, cumin, and garlic in food processor.  Blend until well mixed, then slowly stream in oil to emulsify dressing.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer dressing to a mason jar with a tight fitting lid and put in fridge where it will keep for 2-3 days.  Dressing tastes best if flavors are allowed to marry together for at least 30 minutes in refrigerator.  Before serving, shake well to combine if any separation occurs.

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