Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sweet Snap Pea Salad with Thousand Island Dressing

     Classic Thousand Island Salad Dressing!
     Sweet Snap Peas add a nice touch to a country style salad.  Sweet Snap Peas have to be steamed or blanched till they are al dente, so they will be palatable.
     Today's classic Thousand Island Dressing recipe is one that I made in many restaurants early in my career.  From the 1970's through the 1980's, nearly every fine restaurant offered Thousand Island Dressing that was made from scratch.  French cafés, seafood restaurants, fine casual restaurants and steakhouses always had this salad dressing on the menu.  Starting in the 1990's, many of the classic mayonnaise base salad dressings started to disappear on fine restaurant menus, because chefs felt that the dining public favored only healthy vinaigrette salad dressings.
     In this modern age, it seems like the only restaurants that offer hand crafted classic Thousand Island Dressing are fine restaurants that have a comfort food theme, locally owned seafood restaurants and old fashioned steakhouses.
     Casual corporate chain restaurants still offer Thousand Island Dressing on their menus, but there are quality issues.  Nearly every chain restaurant and cheap buffet purchases one gallon jugs of pre-made Thousand Island Dressing.  Usually the bulk Thousand Island Dressing is generic food purveyor brand name product that sells for a low price.  There are many key ingredients that are missing in the bulk Thousand Island product and the flavor is boring at best.  Once again, chain restaurants can be blamed for burning out a good thing.
     Thousand Island Dressing is much better when it is made fresh.  Bottled Thousand Island Dressing products are second rate.  These products have the same boring qualities as the bulk Thousand Island that chain restaurants market.

     In the early 1900's, Thousand Island Dressing became a very popular salad dressing in fine restaurants.  Originally, Thousand Island simply was mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together.  Most food historians claim that Thousand Island was first made in fishing villages somewhere along the northeast coastline.  The proportion of ketchup and mayonnaise was different than Russian Dressing during that same era and the color looked the same as a Louisiana style Remoulade.
     Because of the fishing village heritage, more than likely the original Thousand Island began as a spin off of Louisiana Remoulade or it was the result of a chef that attempted to make Louisiana Remoulade without a recipe.  It did not take long for chefs to fancy up the Thousand Island recipe, in order to create more exciting appeal.  Eventually Thousand Island became a distinct recipe that was not like any other salad dressing or remoulade.

     As a child, I remember parents making comments after being invited to dinner at a relative's house or friend's house.  The comments were along the lines of "Aunt Rosy makes the best Deviled Eggs!" or "Suzy made the best Russian Dressing last time we were there and I hope she makes that dressing for dinner again!"  
     It is not how extravagant the food presentation is or how exotic the ingredients are that impresses dinner guests in a private home.  It is the flavor that counts when cooking familiar comfortable for guests that are friends and family.  One thing that I noticed when I was a kid was that a good home made Thousand Island Dressing always got plenty of compliments from dinner guests.  If the Thousand Island came out of a bottle from the grocery store, not one compliment was heard.  

     Thousand Island Dressing:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups or enough for 2 large salads.  
     The ketchup measurement is nearly always done by eye.  This creates a personal touch.  Organic ketchup has the best flavor.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add just enough organic ketchup to give the dressing a light pink orange color.  (About 2 to 3 tablespoons.)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped green pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped pitted green olives.
     Add 1 finely chopped hard boiled egg.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 2:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the dressing for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.
     Step 3:  *Check the consistency.  If the dressing is too thick, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time while stirring.  Thousand Island should be thick enough to easily coat a spoon and just thin enough to be poured from a spoon.

     Sweet Snap Pea Salad with Thousand Island Dressing:
     This recipe yields 1 large salad.
     Step 1:  Blanch or steam about 15 trimmed sweet snap peas, so they still have a slightly crisp bite.  (Al Dente)
     Cool the snap peas in a container of ice water.
     Drain off the water and chill the snap peas.
     Step 2:  Place 2 1/2 cups of mixed baby lettuce in a salad bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of sliced peeled cucumber.
     Add 1/2 cup of a combination of these ingredients:
     - thin sliced onion rings  
     - thin sliced green bell pepper rings
     - thin sliced carrot
     Step 3:  Toss the salad ingredients together.
     Mound the salad on the center of a plate.
     Step 4:  Place 6 plum tomato slices around the base of the salad.
     Spoon a generous portion of Thousand Island Dressing on the salad.
     Arrange the blanched sweet snap peas on top of the salad, so the snap peas point outward from center.
     Place a half of a boiled egg on the center of the snap peas.
     Garnish the egg with julienne sliced roasted red pepper.

     Sweet snap peas add a nice garden vegetable flavor.  This is a nice choice of salad for featuring a classic Thousand Island Dressing!

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