Family Favorite Salad

This salad has become a staple at our family gatherings. Not only is it beautiful, but the asiago plays nicely against the strawberry. It is one of my most requested recipes.

mixed baby greens
asiago cheese, large shavings
strawberries, sliced

Family Favorite Dressing:
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 T water
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp black pepper, fresh ground
1 clove garlic, smashed (see this video for easy peeling)
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder

1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a shakable container.
2. Shake well, dress greens and toss to coat.
3. Top salad with strawberries and cheese.
4. Sit back and rake in the compliments.

This dressing naturally separates and will need shaking right before using.

Note that the large shred of asiago cheese is preferable to the small. The large pieces assert their character in a way that a small simply cannot and are vital to the experience.

If possible make this dressing a day ahead to give the garlic time to suffuse as the flavor will improve with time.

In my opinion, there is no need to refrigerate this dressing. However, an alert reader told me that garlic can cause botulism so I investigated. Read about it below.

Smashing the garlic is important. Mincing the garlic will not give the same effect. Smashing will allow more of the essence of the garlic to infuse the dressing.

To add a little extra sparkle to this salad try topping with some chopped candied pecans.

Regarding garlic and botulism:
First it should be made clear that botulism is a very serious illness. If left untreated, it can quickly kill.

The first thing I discovered in my research is that while botulism is dangerous it is also rare, particularly the food-borne variety. The Center for Disease Control in the United States reports that the average number of cases reported each year is 145. Of that 145, approximately 15% are food-borne. So 145 times 15% equals about 22 cases of food-borne botulism per year in the U.S. The population of the U.S. in 2011 was about 311 million. Let’s eliminate persons under 5 years old just to lower that number a little. That would be 311 million minus 6.5% of 311 million (~20,000,000) for a total of 291 million. To calculate the percentage of that 291 million who get food-borne botulism we take 22 (average annual food-borne cases in the U.S.) and divide it by 291 million (adjusted population) which results in a very small number of approximately 0.00000008. To convert that to a percentage value we multiply 0.00000008 by 100 to get a grand total of a 0.000008% chance of getting botulism – pretty low. For a little context, the number of traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2009 was 11 per 100,000 residents or approximately 0.01%.

The USDA fact sheet on botulism explicitly states that botulism has been linked to, among other foods, garlic in oil. The reason for this is that the botulism bacteria thrives in low acid, anaerobic (airless) conditions.

I’ve been eating this dressing and feeding it to friends and family on a regular basis for about eight years as of this writing. I do not refrigerate it and sometimes have it on my counter for a month at a time. So what can I conclude from this research and my experience? I think it’s one of two things either: 1) I’ve been lucky or 2) the red wine vinegar makes the dressing sufficiently acidic to dissuade botulism. Since the statistical risk is so low, I have no way to tell, but I’m glad the vinegar is in there.

Fortunately the extension office at Colorado State University has published specific guidelines for safe garlic-infused oils:

  • Wash all soil-contaminated produce before adding it to an oil infusion,
  • Add an acidifying agent such as lemon juice or vinegar to the recipe at the rate of one tablespoon per cup of oil,
  • Keep oil infusions refrigerated in order to retard the growth of any microbes,
  • Discard infusions after one week, or sooner if apparent cloudiness, gas bubbles, or foul odor develop and,
  • When in doubt, throw it out.
This recipe has a much larger ratio of vinegar to oil than the CSU guidelines recommend. They specify a ratio of  vinegar to oil of 1 to 16, while this recipe is closer to a ratio of 1 to 3.

How to smash garlic:

How to shave cheese and why you’d bother to do it:

For more of my videos, including higher quality versions, visit my YouTube channel:

7 Responses to “Family Favorite Salad”

  1. 1 rin invincible March 12, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    i love this salad! thanks for posting the recipe!

  2. 2 kate January 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    hello! i’m only three days into the scd and im already feeling less panicky and havent had any symptoms (aside from regular constipation). i’ve been sick for 12 years and think this might finally be my ticket! peace out prednisone!

    i’m really loving your website – thank you so much. it is really hopeful and inspiring and a great resource! i hope to share some recipes of my own soonly!

    high five from baltimore!

    • 3 Paul Stocker January 19, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      Hellooooooo Baltimooooooore!

      You’re welcome Kate and thank you for telling me how you feel about my blog as it’s really gratifying to hear from readers.

      By the way, constipation is one of the possible GI side effects of prednisone, so once you’re off that maybe that will improve.

      Cheers to ya and high five.


      • 4 kate January 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

        awesome! i’m stalking the crap out of your flickr (pun intended) to steal dinner ideas. i just added you, too, so you can see how much cheese a human can consume 🙂

    • 5 Hoon March 7, 2013 at 12:15 am

      Michelle, I really admrie you for making the decision. I have not read up on SCD (and frankly I’m scared LOL). I am pondering our next steps. It is painfully clear that Charlotte cannot tolerate dairy at all. It seems not even the most miniscule amount. She has behavioral problems from it. It seems like other foods affect her too but not as severely as dairy. And it’s generally not a one-time consumption that will bring out the behaviors, but if she has it several times over the course of a few days. Her behavior is so much better when we’re super strict. But then I wonder how much better could it be? Should I be exploring this more? Oy. Right now I’m focusing more on nutrition supplementing (like probiotics and B-complex) to make sure she’s just overall got the right nutrients in. I’m literally JUST starting. But I’ll have to think about what further dietary changes I could make. I feel there’s a strong food-neuro connection with her. I guess I’ll go read up on SCD. Thanks for sharing this! (Oh and we know all about shitting bricks )

  3. 6 Rachel April 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    My husband has been on this diet for about 2 weeks now due to Crohn’s. Some things I am still having a hard time finding…. like mustard powder. Where would I find that?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Your address will not be shared with any other parties.

What I'm Eating

%d bloggers like this: