Some things are best when they are the simplest.
Take grilling steaks, for example. People want to season the hell out of them or marinate them so they don't really taste like steaks any more. Salt, pepper and oil is all you need. And a hot grill.
The same could be said for salad. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of tasty salads and dressing out there. Ben makes a tasty raspberry vinaigrette with a spinach salad with candied pecans and feta. But one of the best salads in my memory is Nana's dinner salad. Nana was my step-father Tony's mom. She came over on "the boat" and made the best Italian food anywhere. Homemade ricotta over fettuccine. Yeah, good stuff. Anyway, her salad.
There's no real recipe for Nana's salad, but my sisters Sherry and Patty still have the touch. Nana always started with iceberg lettuce and very few other ingredients from what I remember. Maybe some carrots and cucumbers. For the dressing, just three ingredients: Mazola oil, white vinegar and salt.
It had to be Mazola. Like Nana said, "Mazola izza the best!"
The proportions are really left to the judgement of the salad maker. In my search for an "authentic" Italian salad recipe, I found the same thing. No real measurements. But what I did learn was that the directions for making salad were found in an Italian proverb.
A ben condire l'insalata ci vuole un avaro per l'aceto, un giusto per il sale e uno strambo per l'olio.
For those of you who don't speak Italian, this roughly translates into:
In order to properly dress the salad, it takes a miser for the vinegar, a right one for the salt and a strange one for the oil.
So, what does it mean?
It's a proverb that provides the recipe for a perfect salad. In order to season the dish, you put a little vinegar (the reference to the miser), neither too much nor too little salt (the reference to the "right" one), but for the oil, each one does as he wishes (the reference to the weirdo).
So here's the recipe ... very little vinegar, salt to taste and a generous amount of oil.
Give it a try! Sometimes, simple is better.
Bonus points if you understand this post's title!