• The loving caress of homemade dressing

    Everybody can grow his own herbs. In a jar if need be. The basis for a wonderful dressing.

    There is something extraordinary about growing your own food, no matter on how small a scale. A crisp lettuce combined with a shiny red cherry tomato and a few dark green basil leaves make the freshest and tastiest salad, originating from the same pot on your balcony and ending up together on your plate.

    The number of people who want to grow their own food is increasing. All the allotment clubs have waiting lists for new members; no plot is vacant any more. You can see them all overflowing with vegetables every time you take the train south or go for a walk in the countryside.

    Food scandal

    The food we have access to has never been safer, or as diverse and affordable as it is now. Dozens of organizations control the safety of our produce – we can buy fruit from all over the world – and an egg costs the same as it did 50 years ago.

    However, the supermarkets decide what we are going to eat and Unilever or Monsanto decide what is in our food. Yet, despite all the controls, we have food scandals about horsemeat, EHEC bacteria, genetically-modified corn and Irish meat from cattle born, fed and slaughtered in Poland.

    That’s why so many of us want to regain control of our lives and one of the first steps is to regain control of our basic needs, including food. Anyway, there are few things as rewarding as picking your own fresh produce, either eating it raw on the spot or bringing it into the kitchen and preparing a quick and simple meal that could not have tasted as good if your food had travelled thousands of miles and days to get there.

    Tomato plants

    What and how much of it you grow depends entirely on your own circumstances, but everyone can do it. A small basil plant or a few lettuce plants growing in a pot on your windowsill can provide easy and cheap food.

    If you have a terrace and a bit more money, you can buy larger pots for a few tomato plants or other leafy greens, such as kale and chard, or even carrots, beetroot and peas etc.

    This is a process that can easily match your circumstances, needs and desires, so there are few reasons not to do it. So, you find yourself with a bowl of fantastically fresh, honestly healthy and decidedly delicious greens, ready to be transformed into a real salad, except they are still raw and need the loving caress of a homemade dressing. These are my favourite easy-to-prepare dressing recipes.

    In all cases, the dressings are best prepared in a small glass jar, shaken vigorously and tossed with the salad immediately before serving. The dressing should taste slightly acidic before hitting the salad and only a small amount is necessary to coat all the leaves without forming a pool at the bottom of the bowl.

    Anastasios Sarampalis is a lecturer at the Psychology Department.

    He created this column with the help and support of Merlijn Albering from the Stadsakker Winkel on Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 38. Stop by her shop if you need any advice or resources for growing herbs and vegetables; she is a fount of knowledge.

    Interested? Then print the text version of this recipe!