Never Enough Thyme

I spent 12 years working as a sous-chef at one of the most expensive chalets in Alta, Utah. Besides the top-quality skiing right out the door, the chef and I curated memories using one of the best tools in the world: food. 

One of our favourite guests was Fred Dibbs. Fred’s teeth are like staring at snow without your sunglasses on. He’s barrel-chested but trim, and his tanned skin looks out of place in the middle of the Utah winter. Each time Fred visited, he fell in love with our salad dressing, “Are you sure you didn’t change the recipe? I swear, it’s better this time.” It was always the same recipe. By my calculations, Fred ate that salad dressing more than 300 times in his life. 

I get it, you eat (hopefully) hundreds of salads per year—it’s fair to be eighty years old, retired, on a ski vacation and forget the salad dressing at the chalet. Why couldn’t Fred re-create the salad dressing recipe? Unfortunately, it’s because it takes thyme. 

Pardon the pun, but it’s true. There can never be too much thyme. 

It starts with the two most important and time-consuming ingredients: thyme and shallots. Shoot, I probably lost you with that because every other recipe tells you that in 30 seconds, you’ll have food to eat. Stick with me, I promise. 

Recruit a kitchen helper to pick the thyme. Grab them a glass of wine or sparkling water and have a great conversation. It’s very meditative and is an amazing way to spend time with a loved one. Kids are amazing thyme-pickers. Some thyme is easier to pick than others, try pulling upward from the stem and it’s okay if some stems get in there! 

Next: the shallots. What’s a shallot? And why should I care about them? 

Shallots have a lighter, more subtle onion taste that is perfect to pair with other, more complex flavours. Dicing a shallot requires a sharp knife. Cut the stem of the shallot (not the root end) and then cut the shallot again lengthwise to have it sit flat on your cutting board with the skin removed. Next, slice toward the root end but not all the way through so you can use it to hold the shallot as you dice. Finally, cut 2-3 horizontal lines toward the root (but not through it). You’re now read to chop the entire shallot in the opposite way (vertical) to make perfect tiny dices! 

Makes 500 mL (half litre) mason jar or a little more.

1 - 500 mL mason jar 
2-3 finely diced shallots (approximately 1/3 cup)
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

1. Dice the shallot. 
2. Pick the thyme. 
3. Add all ingredients except the oil to mason jar.
4. Shake for about 30 seconds! This emulsifies the dressing. If it’s too thick, add more red wine vinegar and/or Dijon. Adjust as needed - should be tangy, but fragrant. 
5. Add the oil and shake for another thirty seconds or so. 

Pro tip: Put a small to moderate amount of salad dressing with your chopped veggies at the bottom of a mixing bowl before you add salad greens. Then, mix with your hands just before you are going to serve it to avoid soggy salad. Mixing with your hands is okay, I promise - just wash them first. 

Other uses for this dressing: 

Serve as a light dressing tossed on crudité veggies (toothpicks on the side) with fresh tomatoes, green beans, roasted beets, or avocado.
Roasted beet and bleu cheese salad. Cover the beets in dressing in a separate bowl. Serve with a green salad (little to no dressing) and Roquefort cheese on the side. Guests can choose their own adventure and it looks beautiful!
Add to quinoa salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, or pasta salad.
Use as a marinade for chicken.