This. This is the stuff right here.
Blanched basil, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan and that’s it. This recipe is a bit of a copycat recipe, as it’s based on my FAVORITE salad from a restaurant in good ol’ New Jersey. They serve their version of this dressing over fresh arugula, topped with shaved parmesan. It. Is. Epic.
I’ve coveted this recipe for years, and finally obtained the loose version from a chef friend who used to work at said restaurant. The idea of blanching basil was a little obnoxious to me – cause who wants to get a blender and a pot dirty? But, alas, it was worth it. And it really wasn’t as bad as you’d think. The whole process took 15 minutes, start to finish. I’ve made this recipe about 5 or 6 times now, and just decided that next time I’m going to try it without blanching the basil first. I’ll let you know how it goes.
It’s simple, really, and so so worth it.
(P.S. The above photo is from a double batch – so yours probably won’t look like that!)
- approx. 2 ounces fresh basil (pictured amount, or about 2 cups loosely packed)
- juice of half a large lemon
- 4-ish tablespoons (1/4 cup) good olive oil
- about ½ cup thinly shredded parmesan cheese (fresh, not pre-shredded, pecorino romano works too)
- pinch of salt and pepper
- optional: 5 ounces arugula or mixed salad greens
- First, blanch the basil: Prepare an ice bath in a bowl – just water and 6-10 ice cubes. Bring a pot of water to boiling, then submerge the basil for about 30 seconds. Remove basil and immediately transfer to ice bath, stirring to stop the cooking process.*
- Drain and place the basil in a food processor or blender. While blending, slowly add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Pulse to create a smooth puree. *You can save this as is in the fridge or freezer for later use.
- When you are ready to make the dressing: Add lemon juice and cheese, and blend, slowly adding remaining olive oil. Finish with salt and pepper to taste. You can adjust the olive oil, cheese, and lemon juice ratios to get just the right consistency and level of tartness.
- Toss with salad greens of choice – I highly recommend mixing with 5 ounces of arugula and topping with shaved parmesan. This is a good size for 4 salads, or up to 6 smaller side salads.
- *UPDATE: I’ve made this without blanching the basil, and it still tastes great, but the color is a little lighter and it doesn’t seem to last as long in the fridge. If you don’t want to blanch the basil, I’d eat all the dressing right away.