Caesar Supper Salad Spectacular

Summertime is salad time at my house.  Salads that are full of fresh seasonal veggies and have the crunch factor.  There is a salad I eat only on special occasions but I don’t know why I don’t make it more often.  It is that good. I have it every year for my birthday party entrée. This recipe is a Drake family holiday tradition started by my parents long ago. The Full Caesar. It is a variation on the Caesar salad found in The Joy of Cooking by Rombauer and Becker, page 96, my copy of which is well used…slightly stained with tomato juice and other salad ingredients… A salad that is legendary in how much we each consume. Long ago, my dad used to like to experiment with his recipe and I shudder to think of the weird things he added sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of ingredients in this salad but I draw the line at blue cheese or even worse, cheddar cheese!  Blah!  I am the one who puts it together when we gather and there is never any cheese but real Parmesan cheese in our caesar salad.

Anyway, this salad is a meal in itself. If you are lazy you can buy a Caesar dressing; check for gf on the label. I always make it from scratch but I leave that choice to you.  The coddled eggs blends in with the lemon juice, olive oil and red wine vinegar to make an authentic dressing.  I am not a big anchovy fan but it really adds a special under flavor; you can’t really tell it’s in there but it adds a lot of authenticity to the dressing.  I bake my own French bread and we have a loaf with a meal and the next day the leftover bread becomes the croutons for this salad.  Use any gf white bread you like. Don’t use bought croutons; they are so so much more delicious when you make them fresh.

This is a show stopper salad that is always put together table side when we have it. Some of my siblings make it too and they do it very similarly to this recipe. It is a delightful treasure hunt for the various additions we have grown to love in our Caesar. Manga!

 

Real Caesar  Salad – for six

½ cup good olive oil

1 clove garlic

2 big heads of romaine lettuce

6 slices bacon

1 Tsp. salt

½ Tsp. dry mustard

½ Tsp. freshly ground pepper (only fresh will do!)

2-3 fillets of anchovy mashed to a paste or 1-2 tsp. anchovy paste

½ Tsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

A lemon

3 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese

7 eggs

2-3 Tbsp. tiny capers

1 14 oz. can hearts of palm

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts

A pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

Half a loaf of gf French bread

Preparation the night before; put the peeled garlic clove in the olive oil to stand for at least 4 to 12 hours. Boil six of the eggs and chill, in shell.

Salad Day:  chop the bacon into ½ inch chunks and fry until crisp; drain on paper towel.

Peel the hard boiled eggs and slice into about 5-6 rounds each, set aside.  Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. You can use any kind of tomato; the riper the better. Just cut into bite sized pieces. Wash and tear the romaine into 1-2 inch squares; be sure to dry it in the salad spinner.  Put it all in a big bag and chill in the fridge. Slice the hearts of palm into 1/3 inch rounds, cut the artichoke hearts in halves or quarters.

Cut the French bread into cubes, heat 2 tbsp. of the garlicky olive oil in a large frying pan and add the bread cubes, cook on medium heat tossing often until they are browned some and crisp. Set aside until time to assemble the salad.

The Big Assembly:

Put the lettuce in a large salad bowl; even a big stainless steel pot or wok will work.  Add the salt, pepper, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and the anchovy paste. Toss.

In a small pot; heat water to boil; add one egg and cook for 90 seconds.  This is the coddled egg, necessary for the dressing.

Start adding in the good stuff; the sliced hard boiled eggs, capers, the hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, tomato halves, fried bacon.  Stir gently.  Add red wine vinegar, the remaining 5-6 tbsp. of olive oil, the coddled egg which you broke in half with a knife and scooped out with a spoon right into the salad. It will totally disappear into the dressing. Squeeze in the juice of one lemon and add the fresh parmesan you just grated as well as the freshly fried croutons. Note: Do NOT use pre-grated cheese!  Heresy…   Stir gently and thoroughly to spread the dressing around well and mix the ingredients. Taste it and add more salt and pepper if needed plus add more vinegar and olive oil if there isn’t enough dressing.  We always discuss whether there is the right amount of dressing and have been known to add more to it tasting to be sure to balance the flavors so it is perfect.

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Serve on a big dinner plate. Enjoy!

I have been known to eat any leftovers the next day for lunch; still delicious even if the croutons get soggy.

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Tabouli Salad…GF of Course!

 

I love fresh summer salads on hot days, for parties, for supper alone or with a loved one. They pair well with grilled proteins and dress up a meal that was so so before you got out the chilled bowl of pretty salad.  There are a few salads I had to give up due to ingredients like bulgur wheat, farro, orzo pasta.  Or so I thought. I now use quinoa and make a wonderful tabouli salad; the quinoa replaces the bulgur wheat very nicely.  I particularly like the three color blend of quinoa for this purpose.  You cook it on the stove top, cool it few minutes and it is ready to use.  This quick to make and refreshing salad is very healthy. If you didn’t know it, quinoa comes from Peru and has a fair amount of protein in it; great for vegetarians. I like it’s refreshing flavors.

tabouli salad

Angie’s GF Tabouli Salad

Ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa

2 cups water

½ tsp. salt

——-

1/3 cup finely diced sweet onion

2/3 cup finely diced burpless cucumber

½ cup finely diced raw zucchini

1/3-1/2 finely diced orange bell pepper

1 large ripe tomato, diced

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint

3-4 tbsp. EVOL of excellent quality

2-3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

½ a lemon; juiced and zested

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:  Mix the quinoa, water and salt in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, cover tightly and cook 15 minutes. Uncover and cool.

Dump cooled quinoa in a large mixing bowl.  Add the veggies and drizzle with the olive oil and then sprinkle with the vinegar and lemon juice.  Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Chill at least 30 minutes before serving so flavors can blend and it chills. An hour is better.  My amounts for the veggies are approximate and if you don’t like something; don’t use it.  The mint is really what makes it taste perfect so try it before you decide to not use it. If you hate it; use fresh chopped parsley instead of mint.  I also don’t measure the oil and vinegar; taste and add more if you want more. Don’t make a sopping wet salad; shouldn’t be any extra dressing in the bottom of the bowl.  Put it in a nice serving dish before you bring it to the table. Chill the dish if it is a hot day.

Notes: I grate the lemon peel into the salad before I juice it, easiest. It keeps 2-3 days in the fridge; you could make it the day before if you need to.  For that add the tomato and mint the day you are serving it. Try to get a beautiful tomato that is fully ripe and a tender zucchini makes the best quality salad here. Yes, raw zucchini; it doesn’t taste like that much but it adds something to the mix and your company will never know it isn’t cuke if you don’t tell them!  Enjoy this naturally gluten free summer salad.

Fun Winter Salads

Winter is not known as the season for great salad but it could be! It has been so warm here in PA I am longing for supper fruits so these salads can fill that bill when you are meal planning.

I am giving you two salads for this post plus variations for each. Try your own blends but it is best not to throw everything in the fridge in it.  Try to be selective and highlight one or two ingredients.  Simple ones I like have only three – five ingredients and I use my homemade vinaigrette dressing.   They are pretty healthy and probably fairly low in calories yet high in nutritional value.  These are basic recipes which you can tweak depending on the ingredients in your fridge.

Here are two February versions of my winter salad.  This is a repost from my blog a year or two ago but honestly, I eat these salads all winter long and think you should too. Recently I bought a bag of blood oranges at Aldi’s and used them in lieu of a navel orange; totally different look but pretty much the same flavor; fun!  Another change is I use cubed papaya in lieu of the orange.  Love that one too.

Super Winter Salad (serves 1)

 

½ an avocado

1 celery stalk

3-4 leaves of green loose leaf lettuce

2-3 tbsp. fresh pomegranate seeds

 

Or try this yummy winter salad which shows off citrus flavor and color:

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Citrus Fennel Salad (serves 1)

1 inner stalk of celery cut in 1/3 inch rounds

1 navel orange

¼ cup fennel bulb, cut in ¼-1/3 inch slices

Peel the orange, either by hand or using a paring knife.  Cut across into rounds about ¼-1/3 inch across.  Cut again across into halves.

Fennel has a sweet crunch to it, faintly tasting of licorice, kinda sort of and it marries really well with citrus.  I also like to use blood orange or cara cara navel oranges in this recipe.  Even grapefruit slices are great.  Cara cara oranges have an interesting orange-pinkish cast to the fruit and a lovely sweet flavor.  The local Giant grocery store has them on display right now.  You can also mix two citrus in your salad; a navel and a blood orange.  Fantastic!

Finishing directions for both salads:

Place the salad ingredients in your salad dish; I have some very low sided ceramic bowls I got a long time ago that I love for salad. Then sprinkle the salad with vinaigrette which you just shook up one last time! Please don’t add too much salad dressing or you will have soggy salad.

Margie’s Vinaigrette

I named this after my older sister who passed away several years ago.  She made fantastic vinaigrette.  Mine is not quite like hers but close enough to masquerade as it.  She would approve….

So, I like to use one of those Good Seasoning’s jars but add my own ingredients, use a pint jar if you like; the main thing is a tight fitting lid.  Fill it to the vinegar line with red wine vinegar, not the cheap store brand (skimpy 1/4 cup).  Then some filtered water to the water line (about 1/3 inch more or two tbsp.). Next I add ½ tsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp dried oregano, a sprinkle of dried thyme, 1 tsp mayonnaise, ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, ½ tsp sugar and [optional] one garlic clove (peeled and mashed down a bit to release flavor),. Then add extra virgin olive oil, stop a bit before the oil line and finish it with lighter olive oil (1/2 cup plus one tbsp of combined olive oils).  Shake it up really well. Then shake it some more, you need to get the mayo to blend in as completely as possible. It tastes best at room temperature and plan ahead – let it rest for at least an hour before you use it the first time.  Keep it in the refrigerator if there is any left over, lasts like a month in there. The mustard adds snap and the bit of mayo helps the dressing stay emulsified (fully blended) longer than it would without the mayo.  If your salad is delicate and you don’t want as much olive oil flavor use only mild olive oil and skip the EVOL.  If you chill the dressing you will need to let it warm up before using it; ten seconds in the microwave can help with that process.

Note: You could up the nutritional value with a few almonds or walnuts if you like nuts in your salad.

More thoughts: I make any number of salad combos.  Two of my favorite ingredient combinations are: shredded carrot, sliced radishes, chickpeas, romaine and half rounds of European cucumber or a mixture of torn kale leaves, shredded raw Brussels sprouts, scallion rounds and julienned raw summer squash.  Both mixtures are great with this vinaigrette.  Just don’t put more than say five things in any one salad or it will have a mixed up taste.

Last thoughts: I avoid tomatoes in winter although some of the grape tomatoes are pretty tasty; use them if you feel the need for tomatoes.

So, go get your healthy green on and enjoy a fruity salad, even in the winter.

Reposted from February 2015 with minor changes.

Super Spring Salads

Early spring is not known as the season for great salad but it could be! I am giving you several salad options in this post. Try your own blends but it is best not to throw everything in the fridge in it.  Try to be selective and highlight only a couple ingredients.  Simple ones I enjoy have only three – five ingredients and I use my homemade vinaigrette dressing.   They are pretty healthy and probably fairly low in calories yet high in nutritional value.  These are basic recipes which you can tweak depending on the ingredients in your fridge

Avocado Celery Salad (serves 1)

½ an avocado

1 celery stalk

3-4 leaves of green loose leaf lettuce

2-3 tbsp. fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)

—————-

Or try this yummy salad which shows off citrus flavor and color:

Citrus Fennel Salad (serves one or two)

1 inner stalk of celery cut in 1/3 inch rounds

1 navel orange

1/2 cup fennel bulb, cut in ¼-1/3 inch slices

Peel the orange, either by hand or using a paring knife.  Cut across into rounds about ¼-1/3 inch across.  Cut again across into halves.

Fennel has a sweet crunch to it, faintly tasting of licorice, kinda sort of and it marries really well with citrus.  I also like to use tangerines, Clementines, blood orange or cara cara navel oranges in this recipe.  Even grapefruit slices are great.  Cara cara oranges have an interesting orange-pinkish cast to the fruit and a lovely sweet flavor. My local Giant grocery store has them on display right now.  You can also mix two citrus in your salad; a navel and a blood orange.  Fantastic!

I also make this same salad but instead of an orange I use a half to 3/4 cup of cubed fresh peeled ripe papaya; gives a lot of color and great flavor in this salad.

Finishing directions for these salads:

Place the salad ingredients in your salad dish; I have some very low sided ceramic bowls I got a long time ago that I love for salad. Then sprinkle the salad with vinaigrette which you just shook up one more time! Please don’t add too much salad dressing or you will have soggy salad.

Margie’s Vinaigrette

I named this after my older sister who passed away three years ago.  She made fantastic vinaigrette.  Mine is not quite like hers but close enough to masquerade as it.  She would approve….

So, I like to use one of those Good Seasoning’s jars but add my own ingredients, use a pint jar if you like; the main thing is a tight fitting lid.  Fill it to the vinegar line with red wine vinegar, not the cheap store brand (skimpy 1/4 cup).  Then some filtered water to the water line (about 1/3 inch more or two tbsp.). Next I add 1 tsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp dried oregano or dried thyme, one garlic clove (peeled and mashed down a bit to release flavor), 1 tsp mayonnaise, ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper and ½ tsp sugar. Then add extra virgin olive oil, stop a bit before the oil line and finish it with lighter olive oil (1/2 cup plus one tbsp of combined olive oils).  Shake it up really well. Then shake it some more, you need to get the mayo to blend in as completely as possible. It tastes best at room temperature and plan ahead – let it rest for at least an hour before you use it the first time.  Keep it in the refrigerator if there is any left over, lasts like a month in there. The mustard adds snap and the bit of mayo helps the dressing stay emulsified (fully blended) longer than it would without the mayo.  If your salad is delicate and you don’t want as much olive oil flavor use only mild olive oil and skip the EVOL.  If you chill the dressing you will need to let it warm up before using it; ten seconds in the microwave can help with that process.

Note: You could up the nutritional value with a few almonds or walnuts if you like nuts in your salad.

More ideas: I make any number of salad combos depending on what is in my fridge.  Two of my favorite ingredient combinations are: shredded carrot, sliced radishes, chickpeas, romaine and half rounds of European cucumber or a mixture of torn kale leaves, shredded raw Brussels sprouts, scallion rounds and julienned raw summer squash.  Both mixtures are great with this vinaigrette.

Last thought: I avoid tomatoes in winter or spring although some of the grape tomatoes are decent in flavor; use them if you feel the need for tomatoes. One last note: I don’t use tomatoes with citrus or papaya; sort of weird together.

So, go get your healthy green on and enjoy a fruity salad anytime of the year.

Lemony and Refreshing Quinoa Salad

I made some lemony quinoa salad the other day, the same one I posted last year stuffed in tomatoes.  This time I just mixed in chunks of ripe homegrown tomatoes and it was very tasty as a side dish to a meal.  Kept well in my fridge for the 2 more days it took me to finish it. So easy to make too.  You could even make it the day before; just add the tomatoes before serving. So I am posting it here so you can try it; one caveat; only use local tomatoes.  Do NOT make this with those pale imitation supermarket tomatoes. It is not possible to create something tasty if you start with poor quality ingredients and those plastic flavored “tomatoes” just will not work in this salad.

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Lemony Quinoa Salad

Makes four servings.

Ingredients:

½ cup regular quinoa, (not red or black)

1 cup water

½ a veggie bullion cube

2/3-3/4 cup small dice burpless cucumber

½ cup small dice zucchini

1/3 cup small dice red onion

2 tbsp. fresh mint or parsley, diced finely

1 lemon

3 tbsp.  EVOL (extra virgin olive oil)

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

2 large ripe tomatoes cut in chunks

Directions

Put the quinoa in the water.  If it doesn’t say rinsed you should put it in a strainer and rinse it for a minute to get off any coating which can be bitter.  Add the half bullion cube, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature before continuing.

Place the cooled quinoa in a mixing bowl.  Dump in the finely chopped veggies and stir.  Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top; even fresh chives chopped fine or basil will work great.   Use a zester or a very fine grater and get as much zest off the lemon (wash the lemon first); you can zest right into the quinoa mixing bowl.  In a small mixing bowl put the juice of that same lemon, the EVOL and red wine vinegar.  If you have more than 3 tbsp of lemon juice add a bit more EVOL and whisk to combine; add in up to ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp freshly grated black pepper.  Pour ¾ of it over the quinoa and veggies and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning and add the rest of the dressing if it is needed.  Chill at least 30 minutes. Add the chunked tomato and serve.

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This is a great side dish or, if you have a vegetarian visiting, it is a substantial main dish choice as quinoa has a lot of complete protein in it.

So simple but the combination of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, red wine vinegar and EVOL makes a great salad dressing.  Do not cook the zucchini – if it is fresh and tender it is fantastic raw in a salad.  If you can’t get one of those European cucumbers use a small regular one and peel the skin off it before dicing. If the seeds are large do not use the center with the seeds.  Your salad will not be as pretty if there are sloppy cucumber seeds in it.

Quinoa salad will keep a few days in the fridge, if it lasts that long! Try it with different fresh herbs: it just won’t taste the same without the fresh summer veggies.  I try to eat seasonally and this is definitely a summer treat!

Refreshing Dinner Salad with Tuna and Fresh Dill

Tuna salad, that kinda conjures up images of mayonnaise drenched tuna on bread.  Nope, not what we are talking about today. I am thinking something more like a supper plate salad but using canned olive oil packed tuna.  There are a couple of good brands of olive oil packed light tuna, I use them in Italian recipes all the time, the flavor is superior to any water or other oil packed tuna.

olive oil tuna

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You can put this together with stuff in the fridge and pantry and have a healthy, tasty cold salad that needs no cooking meaning no hot stove.  I will share what I put in mine and you can modify it to use what you have available, exact amounts are flexible.  I am sure you could use canned salmon instead of tuna or cooked chicken might work great too.  The key to success is lots of fresh veggies, high quality tuna and a good vinaigrette dressing.

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Angie’s Tuna Supper Plate Salad

1 can oil packed light tuna (I used half a can: rest will keep a day in the fridge for another salad)

2 cups greens, best is garden lettuce, if none; get something like a spring mix or another tender leaf lettuce

½ cup sliced cucumber: I prefer an European cucumber for this recipe

1/3 cup sliced yellow squash (raw)

1 tomato cut into large chunks

¼ cup chopped celery

1-2 tbsp. feta cheese crumbled

1-2 scallions or spring onions diced up

2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill

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Directions: Put the greens on a full sized plate and arrange the veggies, top with cheese, then tuna and on the very top goes the spring onion and fresh dill.

Vinaigrette Dressing:

Here is my basic vinaigrette recipe.  I use one of those Good Seasoning’s jars to mix it in but add my own ingredients instead of their powder which is not gluten free. You can use any jar with a tight lid and measure in the ingredients.

Fill it to the vinegar line with red wine vinegar, (approx. 1/4 cup)

Add some filtered water to the water line (about 2 tbsp)

½ tsp Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp dried thyme or oregano

one garlic clove (peeled and mashed down a bit to release flavor)

1 tsp mayonnaise

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp sugar

Top off with some extra virgin olive oil, stop halfway before the oil line and finish it with lighter olive oil (total of ½ cup plus 1 tbsp. of oil)

Shake it up really well.  It tastes best at room temperature. Try to remember to make it early so you can let it marinate for an hour before you use it.  Refrigerate leftover dressing. The mustard adds snap and the bit of mayonnaise helps the dressing stay emulsified (fully blended) longer than it would without the mayo so you can pour it easier with out it separating.

Notes: Use the veggies you have and don’t sweat the proportions but don’t put too much of any one vegetable in; so no one veggie flavor predominates; it should be about the tuna and the dill.  If you are a dill hater, try another fresh herb, parsley or basil come to mind.

Have fun making this quick, healthy, and yummy dinner salad that will satisfy your appetite and keep you feeling full for a long while!

Baked Potato Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

Summer meals are all about easy, casual and tasty.  Not about hot kitchens and elaborate preparations.  I don’t know about your family and friends but mine seem to crave things like potato salad, grilled proteins and baked fixed up beans.  I make a lot of that all summer long.  Personally, my standard potato salad is tasty but I get tired of it, all that mayo…. It is not as good either after a day or two. Plus I have a few friends who dislike mayonnaise so this is a great alternate salad to the standard version.

So when I was trying to plan a tasty meal to take to the beach the standard potato salad just didn’t appeal.  I thought of a few past potato salads that were made with a simple vinaigrette and decided to go that route. This recipe is a riff on one I found on foodnetwork.com; by Alex Guarnaschelli, I made it a bit simpler as I was going to feed people who I thought wouldn’t want the gherkins and shallots. Plus I was out of fresh parsley; oh the shame of that!  I think you could add or subtract the fresh herbs you have on hand to make it as you like.  I used champagne vinegar as I was out of red wine vinegar; gave a nice pale color with no pink as the red wine is apt to do.

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This is made with baked potatoes.  Alex uses golden Yukon. I used some russets – both are great choices.  I baked them while making some oven fried chicken so the oven was already going full steam. Therefore I was not heating up the stove top with a big pot of potatoes boiling.  The baked potatoes are also a tad drier which is nice texturally.  I recommend them especially if you can combine with baking something else!

If you never had a vinaigrette potato salad you are in for a revelation of how different it will be.  All the herbs make it so fresh tasting and light compared to mayo based salad. Here’s hoping you enjoy some soon for your next picnic or barbecue.

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Baked potato salad served with an oven fried chicken thigh

Vinaigrette Herbed Baked Potato Salad

6 russet potatoes or 12 golden Yukon potatoes (roughly 2 to 2.5 lbs)

1 tbsp. capers

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 -3 sprigs fresh oregano

2-3 stalks garlic or regular chives

3-4 stalks fresh dill

Dressing:

5 to 6 tbsp. white or red wine or champagne vinegar, divided

1 tbsp. whole grain mustard or  Dijon mustard

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp dried oregano

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ cup extra virgin olive oil, can use part lighter olive oil

Set aside 2 tbsp of vinegar to put right on the hot potatoes.  Mix the rest and shake it up really well.

Directions:

Bake potatoes at 375 or 400 degrees until a fork pieces them; 45 minutes to an hour.  Let them cool a few minutes before peeling.  Peel and slice while still warm into a bowl.  Sprinkle with the 2 tbsp. vinegar and then the fresh herbs which you have minced. I have this cool herb scissors I got for Christmas that does the job fast and easy.  If preferred, you could sub in some fresh basil and or parsley for some of those fresh herbs I used.

herb scissors Sprinkle on the capers. Use the small kind, not those big over-sized critters!  You can add the gherkins and shallots Alex likes if you want; see her recipe if you want that extra zing. Pour the dressing over; like two thirds of it; stir it gently and add more until it is as moist as you want.  Add salt and black pepper to taste; maybe ½ to 1 tsp. salt and a good sprinkle of pepper.

It was still wonderful the next day for lunch; not much leftover though. Great with grilled or fried chicken.