Chopped Salad with Sesame-Miso Dressing

Kim writes:  I’m in love with that orange color dressing they put on salads in Japanese restaurants. I have no idea what goes into it, but I find myself wanting the dressing *EVERY* day, which is becoming a challenge logistically and economically. I’ve looked online for the recipe, but I don’t know if what I’m finding is the right thingf! How do I make this at home so I can start saving some money to send my kids to college?!?!?

Tony writes: Kim, every child should have a chance at college, so if a homemade vinaigrette helps get your kids there, I am going to do my part. What I believe you are referring to is a light sesame-miso vinaigrette, one that’s kinda sweet, kinda salty, mild and toasted. It’s pretty simple to make; a light emulsion of miso,  ginger, sesame and rice vinegar. Personalizing the sauce, tweaking it so each of the flavorings is just right, will be your own little journey (and an important one; rice vinegars and miso pastes can vary a bit). But here is my take along with a quick recipe for a chopped salad of cabbage, carrots and cukes. Nice spring eating. Enjoy!

My method: This is one of those times where you want to avoid olive oil; its sharpness would overpower. Instead, opt for mildly flavored grapeseed oil or canola or peanut oil. There are different options for miso paste (light or dark most notably). I am fond of South River Miso, though whatever you find should to do the trick (look for it in the produce area next to the tofu and fresh noodles).

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Yields 1 1/4 cups dressing.

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1. Make the vinaigrette: In a large blender using an immersi,on blender or in an upright blender, blend 2 Tbs. miso with 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 2 Tbs. rice vinegar and 1 Tbs. lime juice (about 1/2 lime). While still blending add 1/2 cup peanut oil (or canola oil) in a thin steady stream so the mixture becomes thick and smooth. Thin with 2 to 3 Tbs. cold water. Blend in 1 Tbs. minced ginger and 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil and then stir in 2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallions and 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds. Add 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar if the mixture is missing a little sweetness.

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2. Make the salad: Thinly slice red cabbage, shave English cucumber into thick ribbons, and use a julienne peeler to slice long strips of carrot. Toss with 3 or 4 Tbs. of the dressing, sprinkle with more sesame seeds and sliced scallion and serve with grilled fish and brown rice.

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