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All summer long I want to eat bold bright flavors, the kinds of punchy tastes that stand up to everything from bitter greens to grilled meats. Summer for me is about simple and fast fresh cooking, and one of the easiest ways to accomplish this even on weeknights, is to have some condiments in your fridge that make everything they touch more delicious.
My summer star: scallion lemon dressing!
Enter my new favorite go-to: scallion lemon dressing. I make a large jar of it at a time and keep it on hand for everything. It turns any carb -- baby potatoes, cooked rice or grains, or pasta -- into an instant salad. I scoop it over steamed, roasted, or grilled vegetables. I marinate meats in it and drizzle it over fish. I use it as a dressing for tomato salads or panzanella. One of my favorite uses is as a post-grilling dressing: Just remove your steak, chops, or chicken from the grill and put into a shallow dish with some of the sauce. It will absorb the flavors as the meat rests, and the dressing melds with the meaty juices to create an instant sauce.
Marinating is key to the brilliance of this sauce: Because the lemon marinates and is sliced so thinly, it becomes entirely edible, and the tart flesh and softened peel provide terrific bright lemon flavor, eliminating the acid punch and bitterness that they would have if raw.
How to make marinated lemon scallion dressing
It's so easy! Here's what you need:
1 bunch of scallions
1 small lemon
Fresh black pepper
Red pepper flakes
White wine vinegar
1. Slice scallions – white and green parts both – thinly.
2. Wash lemon well, remove the ends and slice in half lengthwise. Slice these halves into half-moons as thin as possible (you can use a mandoline for this).
3. Transfer the scallions and lemon to a jar. Sprinkle generously with a couple good pinches of salt and granulated sugar, five or six grindings of fresh black pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and about a tablespoon of dried oregano. Toss to coat.
4. Press the scallions and lemons down in your jar to compress them and pour white wine vinegar over them to almost the top (some pieces will be poking up out of the vinegar).
5. Pour olive oil on top to about equal the amount of scallion/lemon/vinegar mixture (do this by eye, you'll adjust flavors later). Give a good stir or shake and let hang out covered at room temp for a minimum of 6 hours to overnight.
The scallions and lemons should turn a bit translucent. Give the dressing a good stir or shake and taste, adjust the seasoning to your preference of salt, sweet, peppery or oregano. If you think it tastes too oily, add more vinegar. Too sharp? Add more oil.
And you're ready to go! See you in the backyard!