Long, long ago, in a time before I made most things from scratch, my favorite salad dressing was Briannas brand Poppy Seed Dressing. Kurt would occasionally grab a bottle of the Blush Wine Vinaigrette of the same brand, but if I got to the shelf first, it was Poppy Seed that landed in the shopping cart. For years, I’ve been whipping up all sorts of homemade vinaigrettes, creamy parmesan dressings, Caesar salad dressings, and whathaveyou, and I had all but forgotten about my old favorite poppy seed. Then, along came a story about poppy seeds in the April issue Saveur magazine. Included in that story was the recipe for Poppy Seed Dressing which was first made popular in the 1950s by Helen Corbitt. Poppy seed dressing is sweet, tangy, and somewhat creamy without being too thick. It’s perfect with butter lettuce, and it's a great match for cucumber and tomato.
Although it took me a few months to get around to making this dressing, it ended up being worth the wait. In August, our friends who live in Dublin were visiting Austin for a week. They brought us beautiful food gifts of Irish, cold pressed, extra virgin rapeseed oil and rapeseed oil with chile. This plain rapeseed oil, which is another name for canola oil, has a rich, nutty flavor, and it made the homemade poppy seed dressing extra flavorful. To make the dressing, poppy seeds were cooked for a few minutes until toasted, and then sugar, white wine vinegar, dry mustard powder, salt, pepper, and grated onion with the juice were added. The mix was cooked just until it came to a simmer, and then it was poured into the blender pitcher. Rapeseed oil and olive oil were added, and the dressing was pureed until smooth. You can store the dressing in the refrigerator for about five days. It may need a quick stir before using.
I always loved that poppy seed dressing from the grocery store, but this homemade version was better by far. The flavors were so fresh and bright. With locally grown, just-picked vegetables and homemade dressing, this simple salad was unbelievably good. I’m glad to have reconnected with my old favorite type of salad dressing, and now I’ll be making my own often.