How to Get Kids to Eat Salad: Tangy Tomato Vinaigrette

Jan 4, 2013

Here we are. January 4. Happy New Year! I've been eating in what can only be described as a celebratory manner for going on 10 plus days. Rich food, luxurious food, fatty food, sweet food. I actually feel a little bit fatter. Even I, Cheffer, the self-declared "world's most dedicated carnivore," am craving a salad. Normally, I consider salad to be something that my food eats, but I swear to you, and would scream it from a rooftop: I give up, enough, uncle, no mas! I want a salad.

Having said that, the Super Bowl is a month away, and I'll use that as an excuse to garnish something fried with something else fried, and dip it all into something cheese-based, but nevertheless, as I sit here today, I will again reiterate ... I need a salad!

Remember these guys? How about now?

Salad has made me think of the kids. I want to feed them salad, too. It's not always easy to get lettuce and other vegetables into them, and with the exception of a few of you (of whom I'm completely envious), it's probably not easy for you, either. My kids can be resistant to vegetables. But wait, enter ketchup. Nearly every kid I know loves ketchup. One of the approaches I've always taken when cooking for the kids is to play to their likes, and I've found a way to put ketchup on salad. Pardon? If you're curious, keep reading, for I present to you:

Tangy Tomato Vinaigrette

It's similar to Catalina dressing, but I think you'll love this alternative to a shelf stable, bottled, commercial vinaigrette.
To say we're putting ketchup on our salad can be our little secret. In a blind taste test, very few would be able to pick up on its presence, but the ketchup adds a sweetness that balances out the acidity of the vinegar, which can be a turnoff to some children's palates. This recipe was inspired by Chef David Watt of The Garrison House in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He used to serve this vinaigrette with a "bacon and egg salad," and it was a slam dunk. It was a salad (good for you) that ate like bacon and eggs with ketchup (awesome).

You'll need ...

  • 1/2 cup shallots (diced)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp sherry vinegar (can substitute white or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp parsley (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp tarragon (chopped)
  • salt & pepper to taste

1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the chopped shallots, and cook for about 3 minutes. Cooking will soften the texture and mellow the "sting" of raw shallots.

2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and soya sauce. Mix well with a wire whisk.

3. Strain and cool the shallots, discarding the liquid. Now, while whisking, gradually add the oils, followed by the fresh herbs and shallots. Season to your liking with salt and pepper.

4. Dress your favourite mixed greens and toss.

Cheffer's Inside Scoop

  • Why limit yourself to greens? This dressing is great with cooked and chilled broccoli, cauliflower or green beans.
  • I have also used this dressing as a sauce with grilled chicken, pork or fish ... with great results!
  • A few dashes of your favourite hot sauce will enhance this dressing, but use with caution if kids are participating in the eating.

Patrick Engel has been cooking professionally for 15 years. After graduating from George Brown College in Toronto, and training in the kitchens of Rodney's Oyster House and Bymark Restaurant, Patrick relocated to Niagara's wine region, working at Inn on the Twenty, followed by six years as resident chef instructor at The Good Earth Cooking School. Patrick is currently the chef at Hospice Niagara's Stabler Centre and associate chef at The Garrison House in Niagara-on-the Lake. Patrick lives in St. Catharines, Ontario, with his wife, Marnie, and their two boys, Charlie (7) and Johnny (5). 

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