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July 8, 2009
Boosting the Reputation
is widely and correctly assumed that the proper place for mustard is
atop a hot dog. In fact, the hot dog and mustard ranks highly in an
annual survey of best food couples (coming in behind peanut butter and
jelly and ice cream and cake, but just ahead of bacon and eggs). This
has given mustard the reputation for being a rather sassy condiment, one
that goes well with thick skinned and potentially slow-witted foods like
hamburgers and other thick meats.
Over the years, however, that reputation has ebbed somewhat due to the
proliferation of salad dressings. There is nothing more damaging to a
tough guy’s reputation than to be associated with the common dinner
salad, especially if said salad is in fact a main course. As a result,
mustard’s reputation has taken something of a beating because of the
growing availability of Dijon mustard salad dressing. In fact, some say
that the sassiest of condiments today is salsa, which has yet to be seen
in widespread distribution as a salad topping.
Salvation for it lies not in disassociating itself with salad, for such
a thing will never happen. Once that genie is let out of the bottle, it
will not go back in. Instead, if you are a mustard salad, your road lies
in improving the reputation of salad itself.
Effort has been put into this in recent years, adding a variety of
meats. And we can take it a step further by replacing the limp little
lettuce leaves with pasta noodles. The result is a pasta salad dressed
not with traditional Italian dressing, but with a Dijon-based dressing.
While you are cooking your pasta noodles, it is time to mix together the
ingredients of the salad dressing. You start with olive oil, red wine
vinegar, minced garlic and diced onion. Let these four things stand for
a few moments so that the onion and garlic release their juices into the
oil. During that time, mix Dijon mustard with some mayonnaise, enough so
that the mustard is somewhat creamier, but not overwhelmed that its nice
golden color is not too badly eroded by the bland whiteness of the mayo.
Stir both elements of the dressing – oil, vinegar and onion on one hand;
mustard and mayo on the other – together.
Drain your pasta and rinse with cold water until the pasta is no longer
hot. That is because you’re mixing a salad, and not a pasta dish.
those noodles, add some peas, crumbled bacon, diced hard boiled egg and
chopped tomato (the fleshy Roma, with comparatively little juice, works
best). Stir in the salad dressing to an even consistency.
You can probably sense a theme here. What you are doing is slowly
working back the popular conception of the salad, rolling it into
something comprised of more robust ingredients that are either meat or
meat-like in their composition. If you are fighting on behalf of
mustard’s reputation, your efforts are not going overlooked.
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